The distance between my love for MMA and bare-knuckle boxing (BKB) is only separated by about four-ounces worth of gauze.
Luckily, there is plenty of room in my heart for both of these brutal forms of sport, but I was fascinated how quickly the first fist that connected to an opponent’s face with a meaty thud riveted me to my laptop’s glowing screen, especially throughout the entirety of the latest BKB event hosted by the World Bare-Knuckle Fighting Federation (WBKFF).
BKB has been on the back-burner for the past 129 years, and I couldn’t be more pleased with its resurgence in mid-2018. Both WBKFF and Bare-Knuckle Fighting Championships (BKFC), another promotion with a gloveless hand in such a niche space, have reintroduced this historic brand of prizefighting on pay-per-view, which is available on FITE TV (link here). Most MMA fans—some even more hardcore than myself—were, according to their active timelines, also transfixed to WBKFF 1 on November 9, 2018.
Although there was considerable intrigue as to how a padless punch would fair upon a concrete skull, BKB has become a viable platform for many mixed martial artists to not have to wrestle with their sole desire: slugging-it-out under a spotlight.
I Know You From MMA
To be fair, the recognizable names from MMA crossing over to BKB piqued my interest; the sheer brutality has kept me coming back.
After witnessing the heavy-hands of mixed martial artists, such as Chris “The Crippler” Leben, “The New York Bad Ass” Phil Baroni, Johny Hendricks, and many others, while wrapped in a steel cage, any question marks surrounding their abilities at WBKFF 1 were straightened into exclamation points without the threat of any weapon aside from the wrecking balls attached to the end of their arms.
Ageless wonders in MMA, such as Randy Couture and Dan Henderson, are few and far between. I’m sure it’s safe to assume we don’t want the ring to resemble a retirement home, but BKB seems to have discovered the recipe to reverse the aging process of legendary veterans of fist-fighting like a blood-soaked version of Benjamin Button.
Violence At A Moment’s Notice
Shortly after the sound of the bell, the face of a bare-knuckle boxer can be rearranged from that of a realistic portrait to an abstract image marred with gashes and red streaks.
A blur of fists, streams of blood, and bones busted into fragments bombard viewers with the world’s most extreme version of ‘the sweet science.’ The general consensus: It’s awesome!
A Science In No Need of Sugar Coating
Like a broken record, pundits and those “in the know” repeated the idea that punching without gloves is less dangerous because striking with a bare hand means precision is key to keep the bone structure in-tact; therefore, the chances of wild haymakers, as a means of preventing unwanted breaks, diminishes.
Regardless of which pair stood toe-to-toe, I often struggled to identify wise shot selection versus a barroom brawl—and, to be honest, it didn’t matter in least.
Whether BKB returns to Wyoming or Mississippi—the only two states where such a sport is legal—I’ll be there from start to finish. In fact, if there are too many more BKB events, I may need to change my social media handle.