The money was too good to turn down. That’s why MMA superstar Paige VanZant will be fighting with her bare knuckles Friday night in Lakeland, Florida on the “Knucklemania” pay-per-view card from the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship.
VanZant told Morning Kombat that the money and the opportunity to show she’s a badass was all it took to get her lined up to headline Bare Knuckle’s fight night.
“I think that for a long time, people consistently asked when I’m going to quit or when Hollywood is going to take me,” VanZant said. “I have had a lot of success outside of fighting, but I think people don’t realize that I’m a fighter first. That’s what I do, and that’s my identity. I absolutely love it. I am going to continue to take activities outside of fighting. That doesn’t mean they will take me out of fighting, it just means that I get to do other opportunities that other people don’t get to do. It’s exciting.”
One look at the fighting style associated with the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship will show you that this sure isn’t the UFC, where she was 5-4 before deciding to make a career change. This will be quite different. Bare Knuckle fighting is exactly what it sounds like. Unlike the UFC and its padded fists, the BKFC features knuckles right out in the open ready to rearrange a fighter’s face.
“You get less concussions, less broken hands, less longterm injuries. I think it’s just going to elongate my career and show what I can do in boxing and get my resume that much better,” VanZant explained to Morning Kombat.
The Bare Knuckle rules include punching only strikes allowed, no knees, elbows, or kicks. The ring is circular, and fighters start the bout inside a circle in the middle of the ring. Fights are five rounds with rounds lasting two minutes. Fighters are told to “knuckle up” by the ref and it’s on. Punches have to be closed fists and fighters are allowed to punch their way out of clinches.
From there, it’s an absolute war and how willing you are to show your toughness.
VanZant’s deal with Bare Knuckle has been described by her manager as “a multi-million dollar deal, and we’re not even talking the sprinkles and the cherries that go on top of the sundae.” Friday night BKFC gets to see whether the financial risk it took to hire VanZant will pay off.
She’ll fight Britain Hart, who has three bare-knuckle fights on her resume, including a fourth-round TKO in her last fight on November 13. Hart and VanZant tangled at weigh-ins when Paige put her hand on Hart’s neck, setting off a Jerry Springer-like scene before order was restored.
BKFC’s “Knucklemania” can be purchased for $39.99. Fights start at 9 EST.