BKFC President: Paige VanZant in a must-win situation in her next fight

Last year, BKFC made waves in the combat sports world when they signed Paige VanZant (0-2). VanZant was a decent fighter in the UFC, but she was a star on social media and even competed on Dancing With The Stars.

PVZ had a decent run in the UFC, but when her contract ran out last year, she was one of the hottest free agents on the market. Bellator was seen as the early favorite, but BKFC came out of no where with a massive offer.

The offer supposedly pays VanZant more than 10 times what she was making in the UFC. VanZant signed the deal with BKFC and it took everyone by surprise. From a business standpoint, it was a great move by BKFC.

The promotion is still seeking mainstream appeal and they saw VanZant as the ticket to that mainstream appeal. However, PVZ was going to have to do her part by winning. The promotion was hoping to make her the face of the promotion.

PVZ’s Rocky BKFC Start

Things have not gone according to plan for PVZ or BKFC. VanZant made her debut back in February when she faced off against Britain Hart. She lost that fight and it was pretty one-sided on the scorecards. 

She then took on Rachael Ostovich at BKFC 19. The two ladies had fought in the UFC with VanZant picking up the win. However, Ostovich was able to defeat VanZant at BKFC 19 handing PVZ her second straight loss.

After the loss, VanZant stormed out of the ring and didn’t attend the post-fight press conference. This didn’t sit well with Dave Feldman who is the president of BKFC.

He sat down with MMA Fighting this week and made it clear that VanZant is in a must-win situation. In addition to voicing some frustration in her not attending the press conference, Feldman said, “I can’t keep saying ‘she fought really good, now let’s see what happens next time.’ She has to come out with a victory.”

It’s clear that VanZant’s next fight with BKFC is going to be a do-or-die situation. If she loses her third straight in Bare Knuckle, the promotion will likely close the chapter on PVZ in BKFC.

Paige VanZant releases statement after second straight BKFC loss: ‘I’m still smiling’

This past weekend at BKFC 19, Paige VanZant (0-2) made her second appearance with the promotion. VanZant was taking on Rachael Ostovich (1-0) who was making her BKFC debut.

These two ladies had previously met back in 2019 when they were both in the UFC. That night, VanZant controlled the fight and ended up submitting Ostovich. However, Friday night’s fight didn’t go according to that same script.

Almost as soon as the opening bell sounded, Ostovich landed a huge power right hand that got VanZant’s attention. Throughout the entire evening, Ostovich would have big moments where she landed with her power at BKFC 19.

VanZant attempted to use her athleticism and stay on the outside, but she couldn’t get away from the power of Ostovich. When VanZant would have good rounds going, Ostovich’s big power shots would sway the judges.

At the end of the day at BKFC 19, Ostovich just landed the more impactful shots all night. Ultimately, all three judges gave the fight to Ostovich including one judge who gave it to her four rounds to one.

VanZant after BKFC 19 – ‘I’m still smiling’

Last year, Paige VanZant’s time in the UFC came to an end after she completed her contract. Immediately she was a hot commodity on the open market. Bellator really pushed to try to get a deal done.

However, BKFC ultimately threw out the largest bid and won the services of VanZant. It was slightly a puzzling decision at the time, but VanZant got a million-dollar plus deal from BKFC after earning $40,000/40,000 with the UFC.

BKFC threw out that deal in part to become more main stream. VanZant has a huge social media presence and the thought was that she could become the new mainstream star for the promotion.

However, things have not gone according to plan. Back in February, VanZant lost to Britain Hart by decision. Then, she lost last Friday night which has dropped her to 0-2 in the promotion.

While things haven’t gone her way, VanZant is still smiling after all of this. She took to Instagram to post a message to her followers and her haters after her loss last Friday night.

Britain Hart spoils the BKFC debut of Paige VanZant

Tonight in the headliner of BKFC 16, Paige VanZant (8-5 MMA) made her highly anticipated Bare Knuckle debut. Her opponent was veteran, Britain Hart (1-2). These two ladies had some serious bad blood leading up to BKFC 16.

PVZ shocked the world when she signed an exclusive contract with BKFC in 2020 after her UFC contract came to a close. VanZant was always known as a decent striker, however, she was known for her kicks than her punches.

Signing with BKFC was going to give her a new opportunity to display her boxing skills. She would get tested immediately in taking on the veteran, Britain Hart. Hart has three fights in Bare Knuckle, but she also has some professional boxing experience.

In fact, Hart had eleven professional boxing matches before she started with BKFC. When it comes to pure boxing, Hart definitely had the experience advantage over PVZ. The main event of Knucklemania promised to be fireworks.

BKFC 16 Recap

Round 1

The BKFC 16 main event got underway with both ladies circling. Hart was looking for the jab early and VanZant came over the top with a good right hand. Immediately the two ended up in a clinch and Hart went to work with hooks to the body.

After the ref separated the two, Hart continued to look for her jab. Hart ran in with a right hand that just missed. VanZant then pressed forward and landed a couple of clean hooks. In the final ten seconds, Hart pushed forward and landed a big combination. 1-0 Hart in the BKFC main event on my scorecard.

Round 2

The second round opened with VanZant looking much more aggressive. She pushed forward with a jab and she was looking for hooks. However, the BKFC veteran was catching her with straight shots as PVZ was trying to move forward.

Hart pushed forward again but VanZant caught her clean with a left hook. VanZant clinched Hart, but Hart was the one doing damage with body shots. Once the two separated, Hart went back to the jab. Hart was landing the cleaner shots as the bell sounds and it’s 2-0 at BKFC 16 for Hart.

Round 3

The third round kicked off with a jab from Britain Hart. VanZant was looking much more aggressive looking to push forward herself. However, Hart was landing clean counters and backed PVZ up.

A minute into the round and VanZant initiated the clinch again. However, it was Hart again who was getting the better of it. Hart stepped forward with a big three punch combination which forced VanZant to clinch again.

VanZant pushed forward looking to work off her jab, but Hart again landed the cleaner shots. The third round at BKFC 16 came to a close and the punching stats show it’s close, but I have it 3-0 Britain Hart.

Round 4

As the fourth round started, VanZant was feeling the urgency. She pushed forward and landed some clean shots to open the round. VanZant then initiated another clinch, but this time she was throwing some shots.

Hart circled off the clinch and landed a massive uppercut on PVZ. A stiff jab connected from Britain Hart lands and VanZant was circling around the outside. Hart then pushed forward which forced another clinch from PVZ.

The two separated and VanZant was looking to be aggressive. Britain Hart lands a massive right hand that turns the head of PVZ. Arguably the cleanest shot of the night and the round comes to a close. I have the BKFC 16 main event a shutout through four for Britain Hart.

Round 5

Entering the final round at BKFC 16, I think VanZant needed a finish to get the win. Hart opened the round working her jab. VanZant pushed forward but nothing big was landing for her.

Hart then backed up PVZ with a stiff jab. VanZant circled around the ring and then she pushed forward with some big shots. The two ladies clinched and Hart started working some serious body shots.

VanZant then lands a couple of clean shots. PVZ knew she need a finish and was going all out in the final minute. Big shots were landing for PVZ. Hart was starting to get busted up in the final round, however, she stayed right in the pocket.

The ten second bell sounded and these two ladies were swinging for the fences. The bell sounds and I give the final round to PVZ, but I think this is a clear win for Britain Hart, but the punching stats show that it was close.

Britain Hart def. Paige VanZant by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)

BKFC 16 Preview: Paige VanZant – Britain Hart

Tomorrow night, BKFC will be on display with their sixteenth event titled, Knucklemania. In the main event of the evening, Paige VanZant (8-5 MMA) will be making her highly anticipated debut when she takes on Britain Hart (1-2 BKFC).

VanZant made waves in the combat sports world when she signed an exclusive deal with BKFC in 2020. After PVZ concluded her contract with the UFC, she was one of the hottest free agents on the market. Bellator made a serious run at signing VanZant.

Yet, it was BKFC that was able to sway her away. They made VanZant an offer that she couldn’t refuse. PVZ said this week that her deal with Bare Knuckle is ten times what she was getting paid in the UFC.

It appears that BKFC is going all in with Paige VanZant so it makes sense that her first fight is as a headliner. VanZant has always had pretty decent striking and she’s shown that at times in the UFC. However, she had a nice variety of kicks and in this fight she will only be able to use her hands.

Because of all the hype, there seems to be a lot of picks flowing towards PVZ. Obviously that makes sense, however, I think people are really sleeping on the other half of the BKFC main event. People shouldn’t be sleeping on Britain Hart tomorrow night.

BKFC 16 Prediction

Britain Hart is not just a vet of BKFC, she’s a former professional boxer. Hart has eleven pro boxing matches and she had a record of 4-4-3. She is very experienced and she knows how to throw her hands. All she’s ever done is boxing while PVZ has been in MMA.

With that in mind, I believe she has a real shot tomorrow night at BKFC 16. While watching back tape on VanZant, I believe she’s going to have the power advantage tomorrow. I also believe that she’s the overall better athlete and her explosiveness should help her.

However, you cannot discount the pure boxing skills and experience of Hart. Hart throws some very solid straight punches and if PVZ gets power happy tomorrow, she might eat some shots that come down the middle.

I really believe that we are going to see a close main event at BKFC 16. You know that the Bare Knuckle brass is going to be hoping for a VanZant win, and I think they will get it in the end. However, I think it’s much closer than a lot of the general public thinks it will be.

Prediction: Paige VanZant by Split Decision

Paige VanZant on BKFC debut: I’ll shock and surprise fans

Former UFC star Paige VanZant is ready to shock the world!

VanZant will make her much anticipated BKFC debut in the main event of the KnuckleMania against Britain Hart at the RP Funding Center in Tampa, Florida, on Friday.

Shock the world

The 26-year old VanZant, who signed a lucrative four-fight deal with BKFC, is excited to unveil the new striking techniques she learned from the American Top Team, widely considered as one of the world’s top MMA facilities and home to MMA champions.

“I definitely think I’ll shock and surprise fans. Back when I was watching some MMA, and my old UFC fights and I can see very clearly how much better is my striking now than it has ever been. I can see the growth and development. If I can see it, I think the world will be able to see that as well,” VanZant told Empire Sports Media in an exclusive interview ahead of the fight.

With the world virtually shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, VanZant was able to focus on training for this fight even after contracting the virus last September.

The global pandemic put her modeling and TV appearances on the backburner as the pretty MMA fighter has spent the last sixth months exclusively in the renowned gym in Coconut Creek, Florida.

“The most important thing going from MMA to straight boxing or MMA to bare knuckle boxing is that to focus on technique. Because it’s so important not to leave any room for error that can get you to an extremely dangerous position, especially with no gloves on, it can leave you with a cut opened or a knockout. You really have to be one of the smartest fighters out there and really stick to your game plan and not leave any room for opening,” VanZant said.

VanZant said American Top Team has a bare knuckle boxing program, which helped her tremendously prepare for the fight.

First Test

Hart, who has enjoyed more success as a boxer than in BKFC, will pose her first test in the promotion. The Virginia native has a 4-4-3 record as a boxer and a 1-2 slate in BKFC. But she has the momentum coming off her first BKFC win — a fourth-round TKO against Randine Eckholm — and is eager for a big follow-up against the promotion’s newest star.

“She’s really tough. [She’s] a veteran at the sport. [She’s] had professional boxing matches, Bare Knuckle Boxing matches so she’s super tough and experienced. That’s why I’m super excited about this matchup because I have to fight somebody who’s known in the sport and she absolutely is. She’s fought some of the best female professional Bare Knuckle boxers and I’m excited to test myself,” VanZant said of her opponent.

Hart has a big chip on her shoulder after Paige said the fight “sounds like an easy win” upon accepting her challenge.

Bloody Fight

In what promises to be a brutal and competitive fight, Paige, known as ’12 Gauge’ in the MMA circuit, isn’t worried about leaving the ring with a bloodied face as long as she gets the win.

“A lot of people think [Bare Knuckle boxing] is more brutal but for me, I see it as the opposite. MMA is more dangerous, especially for long-term injuries. You’ll see in Bare Knuckle boxing, people can get cut opened but that’s only superficial. Coming from the UFC to Bare Knuckle Boxing, I’m not necessarily worried about getting cut open. That’s not a big deal for me. The superficial part of it will heal. But long-term damage like tearing your knee, getting kneed on the face or head is so much worse than I think a punch in the face,” VanZant explained.

The VanZant-Hart fight will be available Live on Pay-Per-View including DISH, DIRECTV, IN DEMAND, ROGERS, SASKTEL, SHAW, and VUBIQUITY, and via the digital app FITE, as well as the BKFC website www.bareknuckle.tv/orderppv.

KnuckleMania starts on PPV at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PM and will be distributed by Multi Vision Media.

Two Free Preliminary Fights will be broadcast on the BKFC YouTube Channel and Facebook pages starting at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo