Joe Elmore takes on Leonard Garcia in the top of the marquee feature for BKFC 16. The pugilistic proceedings go down this Friday, March 19 at the Biloxi Civic Center in Biloxi, Mississippi. The event will be broadcast on FITE TV as well the Bare Knuckle TV app.
Elmore has been getting in work at X3 Sports in Atlanta, Georgia for twelve years but has a couple of other facilities he hones his skills at too. The BKFC combatant also works at Gracie Barra with Fabio Costa and was invited to American Top Team Lima with Douglas and Dhiego Lima in recent times.
Bare-knuckle combat isn’t necessarily a new endeavor for Elmore, who used to do pit fights back in the day. Gym vs Gym, set up ten or fifteen cars in a circle, and guys would go at it.
Elmore seems to enjoy that he can once again engage in bare-knuckle competition but under a regulated, professional banner.
Elmore vs Garcia
The Leonard Garcia bout has, in a way, long been on Elmore’s radar but was something that recently came to Joe Elmore in a dream.
“People think I’m crazy but I had a vision in a dream…I always watched Kimbo Slice and Street Jesus Jorge Masvidal, and Nate Diaz….Whenever I saw what Bare Knuckle was, I knew that I was going to do it.”
Elmore was initially positioned for a 165lb tournament spot but COVID-19 restructured some facets for him.
“They had to work some other things out because the pandemic hit…They went the emergency route. Called me back and said we can’t do the tournament right now but we want to keep the show going. What do you think about fighting UFC veteran Will Chope? and I was like well if I fight Will Chope, I want you to set me up with another big fight.”
“Whenever I do that, by my third or fourth fight I want to be fighting Leonard Garcia or who ever’s the champion. At the time I watched Leonard Garcia knockout Julian Lane to become the Latin American world titleholder.”
Joe Elmore continued, “He’s a world champion in bare-knuckle right now. I’ve wanted that name, I’ve wanted that fight, he’s a legend. I just want to prove to people that I can go in there with guys that were like that. Make them look like nothing and go do what I do. Be a world champion and be legit.”
Joe Elmore is currently ranked number one at 165 lbs by a lot of bare-knuckle rankings bodies. This bout could well be a title eliminator but there are other high stakes 165lb bouts involving ranked names like Elvin Brito as well as Kaleb Harris at BKFC 16.
Elmore theorized that the promotion is waiting to see how things shake out at BKFC 16 before booking the inaugural 165lb title fight.
“Kind of looks like that, doesn’t it? You know what it is. I’m the gatekeeper. I can say that I had a conversation before this fight. After I signed the fight, my actual words before I signed the contract with this fight were ‘I want to know that I got a future. I’m not gonna sit here and guard the gate forever. Be number one in the world ten fights in a row never get a title.’ And that’s definitely not their plans.”
Joe Elmore is clearly hyper-focused on that BKFC title fight.
“They’ve been marketing me, they’ve kept their word,” he noted. “I told them I was gonna knock out Will Chope. Told him I was gonna get a fight of the night and wound up getting fight of the year for Tom Shoaff. I told them I’m gonna go out there and knock out Garcia.”
“I mean he has the chance to do it. That’s confidence and just believing and wanting to get to where I want to be to that title. I’m not underestimating him, he is a legend, much respect to Garcia.”
Elmore continued, adding “But that’s my plans and when I do it, I want that promise of that world title…So yeah they’ve made a couple promises, man. As long as I keep my promise and keep performing. Because my promises come with performance not with words.”
There is a pronounced mutual respect between Elmore and Garcia but both are looking to emphatically stop the other on Friday night.
“That’s why we wanted it. It’s Gladiator. I can only turn up to level 10 with a level ten. Don’t want to go out there and beat up my 10-year-old little brother,” Elmore quipped. “That’s why I said it’s not arrogance, it’s confidence.”
“Because I know I have to go out and be the best me I can be,” he continued. “I get up and I go run anyway when I don’t feel good. And I’ve got to go spar and get fish tanked. About to pass out on the floor but they say ‘get up and run’ and I get up and run.”
Joe Elmore went on to say that “It’s because I’m thinking about Leonard Garcia doing the same thing. He’s in there. He doesn’t want to lose, he wants to beat me, and I’ve got to do better than him in the gym. I got to run more than him, I got to train more than him, I got to throw more punches than him.”
Joe Elmore has a quick KO and a lopsided decision win across his 2-0 BKFC record so far. Approaching this third bare-knuckle bout, Elmore has a greater familiarity with achieving that flow state in the ring with key members of the audience bolstering his effort even further.
“Time slows down. I see the punches coming by my head. When they pulled me to the corner to look at my eye to see if they were going to stop the fight… I looked in the crowd and you know like I got forty of my family members, sponsors, best friends.”
“People that were in my wedding close that have followed my career and they’re going to be sitting right up front…. I have a really good support system and when I looked out in that crowd…What bothers me is when my wife believes in me and she don’t want me to get hurt and my son’s out there and says ‘daddy you can win’.”
“You’ll see in that fight with Tom Shoaff, there was a moment with that ref. He said ‘I think we’re gonna stop this fight’ and I said ‘Don’t you steal this fight from us’. I looked at my wife and my son in the audience and they said ‘he’s fine’. He [the referee] said ‘we’re gonna give you one more chance to protect that eye’.”
Joe Elmore continued, “I went out there like the Terminator on that fourth round. From the fourth round to the end of the fifth, that’s when I was like you know it’s all or nothing. And it was the energy of my wife and my family and the people in the crowd that didn’t want to see me lose. The fact that I wasn’t going to disappoint them.”
“That turned me into a warrior and a hero. Because I ain’t fighting for myself anymore. Now I’m fighting for all those people that are about to cry. Thinking this fight and my dreams that they’ve supported are going to be taken. So that energy is un-godly.”
When he isn’t knuckling up and toeing the line, Elmore creates music videos and documentary pieces. Creating content to offer a peek behind the curtain.
To show the other side of Joe Elmore. The man who has a 16-year-old son, who loves his wife who is a teacher of the year, etc.
A parting thought for Joe Elmore
“Just check us out, dude. Me and Leonard Garcia. Much respect to the legend but I’m the legend killer.”