In two months, Bec Rawlings went from being released from the UFC to “The Queen of Bareknuckle.” Ahead of her sophomore outing in the squared circle, she discusses her new sport as well as a return to MMA.
In June, Bare Knuckle FC held their inaugural event and became a viral sensation. The event was the #2 trending topic on Twitter around the world and names from all over combat sports were talking about their interest in the card. The break-out star of BKFC 1 was former UFC fighter “Rowdy” Bec Rawlings, who was quickly dubbed “The Queen of Bareknuckle” and who will be making her second appearance in the squared circle on August 25 when she faces Britain Hart.
In April, Rawlings was released from the UFC after having dropped four straight bouts in the UFC. Another MMA fight was the plan, but when Bare Knuckle reached out to her, the offer was simply too enticing and she soon found herself as a pioneer in the newest combat sports venture of 2018. Rawlings and her opponent Alma Garcia immediately stood out as not just the only women on the card, but also as the first women to ever compete in a legally sanctioned bare-knuckle bout. Rawlings turned in a relentless performance, forcing Garcia to remain in her corner after the second round. Considering the tough skid that Rawlings had been on, the victory was re-invigorating to say the least.
“It had been a long time since I had that much fun in the ring or in the cage. It was exciting and refreshing for me. It was less stressful not having to worry about kicks, wrestling or Jiu-Jitsu. Whenever anyone asks me about the fight, the first thing I can say is it was so much fun.”
The entire MMA world took notice of the new avenue that opened up before their eyes, and Rawlings began drawing praise from the biggest names in the sport. “I think that’s what got everyone’s attention, like ‘Oh wow! She’s legit.’ I wasn’t able to prove that in my previous fights. It was nice to go out there and prove to everyone what I was capable of. We didn’t approach it like a boxing fight or an MMA fight with no kicks. We approached it like a bare-knuckle fight. There are things I did out there that no other fighters that night did. I think that’s what really excited people. They saw me use different kind of blocks and guards that hurt my opponent’s hands and gave me the option to punish her after that.”
One could argue that Rawlings and bare-knuckle fighting are meant for each other and perhaps that is why fans have quickly taken to the “Queen of Bareknuckle” moniker. Just as Chuck Liddell and MMA years ago, Bec Rawlings looks like the definition of a bare-knuckle fighter. She admits that fans are often surprised by the sunny disposition that contradicts her tough appearance. “I feel like whenever I meet fans or anyone who’s seen my career, as soon as I start talking to them and laughing they’re like ‘I didn’t expect you to be this soft spoken and giggly. I thought you would be this tough, deep-voiced girl.’ So I think they are taken aback by how girly I am in person because I look mean and intimidating in there.”
Rawlings outward appearance portrays an unapologetic confidence, which is why so many took notice when she shared her story of domestic abuse on PlayersVoice in her native Australia this summer. She had shared the story before in 2013, but the story gained more attention when it was shared on the well-known Australian platform. For Rawlings, the decision to share her story was about addressing a serious issue in her native country.
“In Australia, domestic violence and violence against women is getting worse and worse. I definitely felt like I needed to touch base and share my story with people who are going through it or have gone through it to raise awareness of how bad it can really be and how it can happen to anyone. I’ve had so many people reach out to me since the article. There are so many girls who are in similar situations that are asking for help or saying that I inspired them to get help to try and get out. The piece has definitely done it’s job but you can never do enough for creating awareness and giving people the outlets to get help.”
Breaking the stigma of domestic violence is a difficult task, even for one with a public profile and voice such as Rawlings. But she she remains firm in her message that no victim has brought it upon themselves nor are they alone. “I think the biggest thing is that the victims think that they’re weak, or dumb, or silly for letting it happen to them. When I shared my story, they’re were like ‘wow. If it can happen to someone as strong and powerful as you, it can happen to anyone. It’s not because I’m weak or I’m deserving of it.’ It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. There is help out there. You just need to ask for it and people will help you. There is light at the end of the tunnel.“
When Rawlings returns to the squared-circle, she will face the task of defeating professional boxer Britain Hart who hopes that the sport of bare-knuckle fighting can turn around her career. Hart is 2-3 as a boxer and has dropped her last three fights. Despite such misfortune, Rawlings knows first-hand that going through a rough patch doesn’t mean an opponent won’t be dangerous in this new venture. “With Britain, we’re stuck on our feet so we’re doing what she’s really good at, whether she’s had a few losses or not. I’ve had a few losses as well. I think because it’s a new sport we all get a fresh start. She’s going to be dangerous. She knows what it’s like to be under the bright lights. She brings her boxing skills and experience into the ring and I bring my bare-knuckle debut and all of my previous MMA experience as well.”
While another victory would only grow her status in her new home, she insists that she is in no way done with MMA. Prior to her first bout, there were plans to return to Invicta and Rawlings says that those talks will resume after she handles business later this month. “We were talking with them before my last bare-knuckle fight. We’ve stopped talking with them until this one is over with. It’s hard to book another fight when you already have one lined up and they’re worried about injuries with that. So I’ve stepped away from that and am just focusing on my fight coming up with Bare-Knuckle and then I’ll get into talks with Invicta. But I definitely want to fight for them and they’ve said they want me so we just need to sit down and talk about it. They are the best organization out there for women so it would be nice to get back with them where I began.”
BKFC 2 takes place at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, MS on August 25. The event airs live on PPV.