Cageside Press spoke with BKFC President David Feldman about the sport of bare-knuckle and their plans to expand the latest venture in combat sports.
Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship thus far was being able to make their sport come off as exciting and new. The brainchild of David Feldman and company was previously considered forbidden, and that’s exactly why it was an overnight success in June. Now going into their second event, Feldman spoke with Cageside Press about the landmark first show, and their expectations for the next card on August 25.
The consumer has never had more access to boxing and MMA than this year, how was Bare-Knuckle able to become the trending event worldwide in June?
Because it was forbidden for such a long time that people were like ‘Wow!’ They’re actually really doing this? This is legal?’ Even comments on today’s Facebook post: ‘I didn’t even know that stuff was legal.’ I think it was having something you previously couldn’t have and watching something that you previously couldn’t have. On the night, it was just a remarkable event. I don’t think we could have scripted it any better or had better fights that night. We said we were going to and I do think we ushered in a new era in combat sports on June 2nd.
The thing everyone kept talking about regarding the last event was the pacing. Fans raved about fights ending quickly back-to-back compared to boxing and MMA events. Is that your expectation for how events are going to go in Bare Knuckle?
We’ve been working on this for over eight years. We’ve been working on the rules and regulations and how to make it an exciting sport, not just it was something that people wanted to see because it was bear knuckle. We designed the rules, the ring. they toe-the-line, and they start at close quarters. You can hit in the clench and if there is more than a 2 or 3 second lull in the action they brake and they re-start and you start fighting again. All the stuff we did to put together the rules, regulations, the ring, everything was designed to make an exciting style of fighting. Then when we were going over itwith the production team in how to make the event go well, we said we don’t want big interviews in between the fights. We want action, one fight after another and that is what we gave. I think after watching it at least 1,000 times already that we did deliver to the fans and I think the fans that spent $29.99 felt that it was money well spent. Everybody said the same thing: Great price, great show, great event, and that they will tune in again. I think the excitement and the quality of fights we gave is something that is going to make fans tune in on August 25.
I’m sure you will be announcing more officially in time, but what can you tell us about some of the doors that have been opened since having that successful first show?
Potentially, lots of doors are opening as we speak. Right now it’s Missississippi, Wyoming, and there is another state that I will mention when we make the announcement of where the October 20th event will land. There are a bunch of more that are about to open up, and they are exciting territories. But we don’t want to open up too many at one time. because we do want to be that promotion that opens these different States. It’s not only about being the first guy there, it’s more about setting a precedent for other promoters so that they need to live up to as far as the safety and the action that goes with these fights. We are going to give the fans another great night of entertainment and then another and that is how we plan to roll this out.
The break-out star of the first event was undoubtedly Bec Rawlings, who fought in the only female fight that night. What stood out to you personally about her performance?
Let me give you some back story. I’ve promoted over 300 hundred MMA and boxing shows in my careers. I have gotten so used to everything that I don’t really get to excited at the fights and I actually jumped out of my seat when I saw her in the ring exchanging with Alma. It was just unbelievable. I think what she brought to sport was that she let people know that this is not just a backyard sport. She showed incredible technical skill that night and overpowered a professional boxer. She’s an MMA girl, and she took it to the professional boxer in bareknuckle and I think she showed all the fans this is can be main stream sport for everybody. That being said, we are looking on building Bec up. Not only because of her fighting ability but she’s a got great personality, she talks very well, and she’s got a great backstory. I think it is a no brainer that she is going to be a great star in this.
You’ve obviously made news in signing other notable former MMA fighters in Chris Lytle and Kendall Grove. Will you be continuing the trend of continuing to sign these names from boxing and MMA for the foreseeable future?
I don’t think you have to come from any other disciplines, but you have to be a trained athlete. You can’t just come off the street and say I want to be a Bare Knuckle fighter. You will still have to train the same way you would to make a professional debut in boxing or in MMA. We have to figure out how we can qualify for amateur bare-knuckle fights because we don’t have any of them right now and that’s not even on the horizon. We require all of our fighters to be a professional in some form, whether it be as a professional kick-boxer, Muay-Thai, MMA, or a professional boxer. They have to be an experienced professional to crossover right now because this is new. As we roll this out, you never know what can happen. But we are looking at grabbing some young talent, some guys that may have had one or two boxings fights but they are not the greatest boxer, or in MMA they are not the greatest ground guy, but maybe this is something right in the middle for them. We’ll see who can last in this because it is definitely not for the weak. It’s not for the guy who says ‘hey let me go out there and try to fight.’ There are a lot of guys like that who are reaching out to us, but we aren’t looking out for these kind of guys. We are looking out for guys that are experienced, or guys that serious about making a run at this.
What does the current schedule look like for Bare Knuckle for the rest of 2018 and in 2019?
Our next event is on August 25 and then we come back on October 20th. We are looking at a possible date in early December, but there is just a lot of action going on there where we don’t want to compete later in the month. If that doesn’t happen, we are looking at eight shows next year with possibly more. We have some regional promoters that we’re teaming up with to do some smaller shows to build up our talent. It will be anywhere between eight to twelves shows next year.
What is your message to the people who missed the first show about why they should tune in for the second show on August 25?
All I can say is: Non-stop Action. If you are a fight fan, if you are a boxing or MMA fan and you tune in to watch good fights, you have to tune in to BKFC 2: A New Era on August 25 on pay-per-view. It’s at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tickets are selling like crazy. You have to tune in because the fights are just incredible. I don’t think anyone could’ve asked for a better night of fights for Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 1 and we expect more of the same. We set the bar higher, so we expect the guys to do even better on this one. So tune in and watch a great night of fights.
BKFC 2: A New Era will take place on August 25 from the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Mississippi and will be available on pay-per-view.