…And Why She Still Has A Shot At Greatness!
Miami, Florida-Super Bowl Weekend got off to a TRULY rip roaring start Friday night with the wildly successful BKFC: KnuckleMania. A 125 pound bout between Taylor Starling/Charisa Sigala and the dominant BKFC debut of 145 pounder John Chalbeck (9-0 Boxing, 4-0 MMA, 1-0 BKFC) caught everyone’s attention the most.
Starling and Sigala rightfully earned Fight Of The Night honors painting The Squared Circle with each other’s blood while John “The Florida Keys Kid” Chalbeck’s viciously accurate, flowing combinations sent the more traditional bare knuckle boxer Greg Bono (1-1 Bare Knuckle) to freakin’ Valhalla in the third round. Chalbeck is the future of this sport, mark my words. Bonus points to Bono for the old timey moustache to match the old timey high guard, I guess?!
The event concluded with the highly anticipated bout between the very experienced Britain Hart (4-4-3 Boxing, 2-2 BKFC) and MMA Superstar “12 Gauge” Paige VanZant (8-5 MMA, 0-1 BKFC). Even with the odds essentially calling it a pick ’em, I knew that PVZ had one hell of a fight on her hands. The first four rounds saw VanZant struggling to figure out Hart’s aggressive, inside brawling style. VanZant stayed in the clinch whenever possible, landing clean uppercuts but it was plain to see that they were fighting the kind of fight Britain Hart wanted.
The fifth and final round saw Paige VanZant rally back and show a level of warrior heart that changed my mind about her bare knuckle prospects entirely.
Before this point, I was right there with so many wondering why she didn’t go to Bellator, where the Flyweight division over there is relatively shallow. No longer thought that after Round Five. It became apparent that VanZant isn’t looking for an easy road or any kind of a tune up fight. She’s looking to truly test herself from the jump.
I had to remember at this point that this was the very same VanZant that stood with Rose Namajunes in a memorably bloody encounter. Despite dropping a decision to Britain Hart, Paige kept it competitive and most importantly…she never ran. She kept moving forward, looking for any kind of way to victory. Respect earned. Not all risks pay off.
In discussing her bare knuckle future, I would have to be nerdy as all hell and remind you that another fighter in history, who went on to become a legend in Professional Boxing, began with a 0-1 record. That was none other than Middleweight Titan Bernard Hopkins, who later became a reigning WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF and The Ring 160 pound champion and eventually challenged for the Light Heavyweight title
VanZant clearly showed in the final round that she was getting acclimated to bare knuckle fighting. Getting back on the horse as quickly as possible and stringing together a couple of gritty wins is quite possible and certainly something she has done before in the UFC, the most elite MMA promotion in the world. So keep the faith. Or you might eat your words and look a little silly when you see her fighting for the world title. PVZ has a world class team behind her and a warrior spirit.
This promotion will prove to be a good fit, you’ll see.