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

Paige VanZant can still compete in MMA while under contract with BKFC

Paige VanZant

This Friday night, Paige VanZant (8-5 MMA) will make her highly anticipated debut in BKFC. 2020 was a big year for Paige VanZant. She returned to combat sports for the first time since January of 2019. She had been held out due to a number of injuries.

VanZant had one fight left on her UFC contract and she took on Amanda Ribas at UFC 251. That night, VanZant was submitted in the first round. The entire fight week, VanZant made it clear that she was going to explore free agency after the fight with Ribas.

VanZant and the UFC agreed to part ways after the final fight of her deal and she started exploring the market. Early on, Bellator was seen as the clear favorite to sign PVZ. They were vocal about their interest and VanZant’s husband fights under the promotion.

However, VanZant shocked everyone when she signed an exclusive deal with BKFC. Bare Knuckle Boxing was not even on the radar in terms of evaluating the options for VanZant. However, BKFC came forward with an offer she couldn’t refuse and she took the deal.

Now, this Friday she will step into the squared circle against Britain Hart (1-2 BKFC). It will be the start of a new chapter for Paige VanZant. However, despite signing the deal with BKFC, her MMA career might not be over due to some language in the contract.

BKFC will allow VanZant to compete in MMA

In speaking with TMZ Sports, VanZant revealed that BKFC’s contract gives her the liberty to take an MMA fight. VanZant said, “They (BKFC) did give me the liberty in my contract to take an MMA fight. I was informed of that by my manager and I didn’t know that at first”

“At first I was like, ‘No, I just want to do the boxing.’ But, after coming to American Top Team, it rebirthed my excitement (for MMA)… Yeah, maybe I’ll take an MMA fight. But for now I’m strictly focused on the boxing,” VanZant said.

Signing VanZant was a huge mainstream move for BKFC. While the MMA purest aren’t extremely high on PVZ, she does have a massive following and she will bring eyes and attention to Bare Knuckle.

If she can get a couple of wins under her belt at BKFC, it might be good business to explore cross-promotion. I could definitely see a situation in the future where there is some cross-promotion events with PVZ. My guess is that it would likely be Bellator seeing as Scott Coker is never afraid to co-promote an event.

Paige VanZant has her Bare Knuckle FC debut set

Paige VanZant

The anticipated Bare Knuckle FC debut of Paige VanZant is set. VanZant announced today on her official Instagram that she had signed the contract to make her debut on February 5th. She will be taking on Britain Hart (1-2) in her BKFC debut.

Back in July after UFC 251, VanZant stated that she was going to explore her free agency. The anticipation was that VanZant would ultimately sign with Bellator where her husband, Austin Vanderford, fights.

However, PVZ through everyone a curveball when it was announced that she was signing an exclusive deal with Bare Knuckle FC. The contract she signed was a four-fight deal that was valued well over one million dollars.

The contract with Bare Knuckle FC is said to also have incentives built in for VanZant would could raise the value of the deal. It was a bold move for BKFC who is trying to bring in more mainstream viewers. A smart business decision bringing in someone like PVZ.

PVZ in Bare Knuckle FC

To be completely honest, I really don’t know what to expect from Paige VanZant in Bare Knuckle FC. When she was competing in the octagon she had decent moments on the feet. However, it’s a big stretch to say she’s a proficient boxer.

Granted she’s just been training her boxing for months after signing the deal with Bare Knuckle FC. Call me crazy, but I’m slightly intrigued to see what happens on February 5th. Her opponent is already well experienced in this field.

Hart has fought three times in BKFC, but she’s also fought 11 times in a professional boxing ring. She is very experienced when it comes to boxing and has much more pure boxing experience than Paige VanZant.

You have to imagine that BKFC is hoping and praying that their investment in VanZant pays off on February 5th. If she comes out and loses right away, it’s not going to be a good look one fight into that megadeal.

Official: Paige VanZant signs with Bare Knuckle FC

Paige VanZant

Well the rumor mill has been buzzing over the last few weeks about Paige VanZant. There were rumors that she was close to a deal with Bare Knuckle FC. There were also rumors that Bellator was making a big push.

However, after everything, we finally got our answer today. As I stated in the original article, the resolution of this situation is a surprising one as PVZ has signed a multiple fight deal with Bare Knuckle FC.

What does VanZant bring to Bare Knuckle FC

Bare Knuckle FC has been a little bit of an oddity since it started back in 2018. The promotion has welcomed former UFC champions and former boxing world champions to it’s ranks.

Fighters like Paulie Malignaggi and Johny Hendricks come to mind when thinking of the fighters to try out Bare Knuckle FC. However, we haven’t seen a female star make the jump to Bare Knuckle. That all changed today.

While VanZant is not one of the best fighters in the world, to deny her popularity would be unwise. She became a sensation when she first joined the UFC and became even more popular after her stint on Dancing With The Stars.

The obvious reason behind a lot of VanZant’s popularity are her looks. She has been featured in Sports Illustrated for their Swimsuit Edition and has talked about how much she gets paid for Instagram posts.

For these reasons the signing leaves me scratching my head. Bare Knuckle FC is absolutely brutal. Don’t believe me, just watch the Artem Lobov and Jason Knight fight. I was fully expecting VanZant to sign with Bellator after her UFC contract ended.

Per ESPN, the deal with Bare Knuckle is a four fight deal with over a million dollars with incentives built into the contract. A massive pay bump and one that Bellator clearly was not ready to match. I’m very curious to see what the future holds for PVZ in BNFC.