Tai Emery has had quite the journey in her fighting career thus far. From the LFL (Legends Football League, an all-female lingerie league), to Lingerie FC, to training in Thailand, and now signing with Bare Knuckle FC, her career has taken her all over the map.
When Emery arrived in Thailand in 2019, something told her to stick it out, evening with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “I’ve literally slugged it out, slept on concrete floors in Thai gyms, just learned from them,” she told Cageside Press in a recent interview. “There was some sort of vision, or dream, or just that pull, that magnetic pull that said to just stay.”
When the call came to fight for BKFC, she honestly thought it was a joke. “I thought someone was having me on. I think managers and people love to fluff things up, and that’s not my style,” Emery explained. “So in the end I just remember kind of getting a bit short with him. I was like ‘look mate, if you’re going to take me to the playground, take me to the f*cking playground! Because I don’t need to hear any of this other sh*t. I don’t care about the contract, I don’t care about any of that. If this is going to happen, this is what I’ve wanted to manifest.”
Just weeks prior, she’d spoken with a sponsor and said that she wanted to fight bare knuckle. Another reason she thought someone was having her on. “They put me in a group message with David [Feldman, BKFC President] just so I could see that it was real. And slowly I came to realize this was real.”
“Honestly I’m just so happy. I think it’s such a good promotion, I think it’s the change that fighting needs. Similar to LFL, it’s taking that element and making it more into entertainment.”
Emery likes the fact that BKFC has taken a traditional sport, and mixed in the entertainment factor. Not to mention that they’re building up women in the sport. “They’re building a women’s division. They’re wanting to build a women’s division.”
If you think Emery’s background in Lingerie football was more show than athleticism or toughness, think again. Just how hard do the girls hit, even in those revealing outfits?
“Think roller derby, think Miss Congeniality, Miss America pageant, think UFC, bare knuckles, think street, think all of that, because that’s exactly what it is, while at the same time still trying to play football,” Emery stated. “I’ve gotten hurt more playing football, LFL, than what I have in any of my fights. There’s so much passion and for women, we take everything so personal. For me, my own job was to tackle someone. And just how personal a girl would take it, to the point where you’re like ‘dude, you remember we’re playing football, right? What the hell!’
“A girl would always come over and be like smashing a knee into me, I’ve had a rib popped out in a game,” revealed Emery, who had it pop back in and kept playing. “I’ve had my nipples almost ripped off.”
Now that she’s transitioning to bare knuckle, Emery is hoping to debut in December. She’s not ready to call anyone out, but anything is possible, including a tournament moving forward. “Don’t know, don’t care, I’m happy to be signed, I’m happy to be promoting and building a legacy for the next generation.”
Watch our full interview with newly signed BKFC fighter Tai Emery above!