Feldman says BKFC 16 already sold out, Elmore hopes to make it 3 in a row

Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) president David Feldman announced that the BKFC-16 is already sold out.

The BKFC 16, which is slated on Friday night at the Biloxi Civic Center in Biloxi, Mississippi, promises to be a fitting follow-up to the smashing success of KnuckleMania last February in Florida.

“From top to bottom this is one of the strongest cards we’ve put together,” Feldman said. “Biloxi is truly our second home with this being our seventh event in front of the supportive legion of BKFC fans there. It’s going to be a night of the world’s best bare-knuckle action inside the Civic Center and for fans watching at home on the BKFC Digital App.”

Headlining BKFC-16 is a lightweight match between veterans Leonard ‘Bad Boy’ Garcia (1-1), fighting out of Lubbock, TX, and Joe ‘The Hitman’ Elmore (2-0), of Atlanta, GA.

‘I am the legend killer’

Elmore has been on a tear, winning his first two BKFC fights. He stopped Will Chope in the first round at BKFC-11 last July, then returned two months later to pull off a unanimous decision victory over Tom Shoaff at BKFC-12. He’s hoping he could make it three in a row.

“I’m excited,” Elmore said about the shot he has been given. “I’m where I deserve to be. I’ve been fighting for this for a long time. I’ve got 40 pro fights and I’ve been the main event for about 30 of them. I just needed a promotion with the proper ability to make me shine. I told David Feldman (BKFC President), ‘it’s my talent, my hard work, and my viciousness that was designed for this sport, but it’s your platform.’ I’m just excited to have this platform and do what I’m gonna do.

While Elmore has high respect for Garcia, he vows to stop the former UFC fighter on Friday night.

“I love Leonard Garcia,” Elmore said. “I’m a huge fan of his. He’s a legend, but with all of my heart, I believe I am the legend killer. I’m coming out here to knock him out. I’ve never been dropped in 40 fights. I’m not nervous at all. I’m excited. The more I have on my shoulders, the more I’m driven with adrenaline just to fight. The big crowds don’t make me nervous. They make me happy nervous. It’s what I crave.”

After his UFC and LFC stints, Garcia made a sensational debut in bare-knuckle fighting in 2019 with a second-round knockout of Julian Lane. Garcia, however, lost his second fight later that year against Jim Alers at BKFC-7. He is hoping to bounce back against Almore.

Co-featured and making his BKFC debut, Former Boxing World Champion DeMarcus ‘Chop Chop’ Corley of Washington, D.C. clashes with BKFC veteran Reggie ‘Eaz-E’ Barnett Jr. of Virginia Beach, VA in a bantamweight bout.

Exciting undercard fights

Leading off the undercard in the heavyweight division, BKFC’s first-ever Heavyweight World Champion and the First Heavyweight Police Gazette Champion Arnold Adams (3-1), of Oak Forrest, IL, battles fan-favorite Bobo O’Bannon, (1-1) of Mobile, AL.

Adams will be making his return from a long hiatus. His last fight was in August of 2019 at BKFC-7. Among his three victories include huge wins over current BKFC Heavyweight World Champion Joey Beltran and Sam Shewmaker. O’Bannon returns to the Biloxi squared circle following a memorable one-round slugfest against Shewmaker last December at BKFC-15.

Hometown hero

In an outstanding middleweight matchup, Biloxi, MS’s hometown favorite, Tyler ‘The Zombie’ Hill, clashes with ‘Z Man’ Zion Tomlinson (1-0) of Roanoke, VA. The 21-year-old Tomlinson returns to BKFC following his first-round stoppage of Harrison Aiken last October at ‘Toe the Line 2.’

Competing at a weight limit of 165lb., Hattiesburg, MS native Brad ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly, (1-0) collides with Elvin ‘El Bandido’ Brito, (2-2) of Puerto Rico. Kelly quickly impressed the Biloxi faithful last December with a stunning first-round knockout of Kaine Tomlinson, Sr. at BKFC-15. Brito hopes to follow up his action-packed win over Kaleb Harris last July at BKFC-11.

Looking to bounce back

In a welterweight cross-state showdown, Melvin ‘The Young Assassin’ Guillard, (0-1), of Kenner, LA hits the squared circle against BKFC debuting Scott ‘The Irish Spartan’ O’Shaughnessy, of Slidell, LA. In his BKFC debut, Guillard suffered an unfortunate hand injury that stopped his fight against Isaac-Valle Flagg at BKFC-7 almost two years ago.

Also fighting in the welterweight division, Adrian ‘Guard Yo Grill’ Miles of Birmingham, AL battles Saginaw, MI MMA veteran Jason ‘J Hook Em’ Fish (1-0)

Fighting at 165lb. Forrest, MS native Kaleb ‘The Lionheart’ Harris, sporting a BKFC record of 2-3, looks to even his record against battle-tested veteran Noah Cutter of Defuniak Springs, FL.

Making their debuts

In a bantamweight matchup of Los Angeles, CA-based BKFC fighters, David Diaz faces off against Spencer Ruggeri. Both fighters were selected from the BKFC Fighter Tryouts and will be making their promotional debuts.

Rounding out the card in the middleweight division, Louisiana’s Ryan Jones clashes with Eric ‘The Genetic Freak’ Thompson of Slidell, LA.

BKFC-16 main card starts at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT. Two preliminary bouts will be streamed free on the BKFC YouTube Page @BareKnuckleFightingChampionship starting at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo 

BKFC bet big on Paige VanZant and lost

This past Friday at BKFC 16, Paige VanZant (0-1) made her highly anticipated Bare Knuckle debut. PVZ saw her UFC contract come to a close in 2020 and was one of the most high profiled free agents last year.

Bellator and BKFC battled it out to get her to sign. Ultimately, VanZant made the surprising decision to sign with Bare Knuckle. The deal supposedly pays her ten times more per fight than she was making with the UFC. Worth noting, she was making $40,000 to show, $40,000 to win with the UFC.

The word is that VanZant would be bringing home close to a million dollars per fight with BKFC. Bare Knuckle has been trying to get more mainstream and they saw PVZ as a golden opportunity and they didn’t let it pass them by.

I have to say, I completely agree with their thought process. VanZant has amassed a big following on social media over the past few years. The former UFC fighter has also been featured in Sports Illustrated’s Swim Suit edition.

BKFC saw VanZant as an opportunity to make Bare Knuckle more mainstream. However, it would require PVZ doing well fighting for them. They gave her Britain Hart (2-2) in her debut and it didn’t go well on Friday night.

What’s next after BKFC 16?

I said in my preview that BKFC wasn’t doing VanZant any favors in her first fight. While Hart was just 1-2 in Bare Knuckle, she had eleven professional boxing matches. The girl knows how to throw her hands.

Meanwhile VanZant was always known more for her kicks than her punches when it came to striking in the UFC. Now, VanZant is the better athlete and she’s more explosive which is why I ultimately picked her to win in a razor close fight.

On Friday night, we saw VanZant show off that explosiveness in the fifth round. However, at that point it was a little too late. Britain Hart completely flustered PVZ for the first four rounds at BKFC 16.

Her pure boxing skills gave VanZant trouble and as a result, all three judges awarded Hart the first four rounds on the cards. The only round that VanZant ended up winning was the fifth and final round.

Had VanZant won, BKFC would have likely given her a shot against Bec Rawlings (3-0). Rawlings is the BKFC flyweight champion and she has history with VanZant. PVZ defeated Rawlings back in the UFC so that could’ve led to a big rematch in Bare Knuckle.

However, it was not meant to be. Now, BKFC has to figure out what to do with VanZant next. A likely scenario could be an immediate rematch with Hart or they give her a gimme fight to get her in the win column. Either way, Friday night didn’t go as planned for VanZant or Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship.

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