Bare Knuckle (Fighting) Is Growing, It's Time To Lay The Foundation

Bare Knuckle (Fighting) Is Growing, It’s Time To Lay The Foundation

Like it or not, bare knuckle boxing, more popularly known today as bare knuckle fighting is here to stay. This past weekend, BYB Extreme (BYB) and Bare Knuckle Boxing (BKB) held a crossover promotion event. MMA fans have raved about the thought of this in mixed martial arts for years and it is already happening in the bare knuckle world. BYB Extreme is the Dada 5000 owned promotion out of Miami, Florida and BKB hails from the United Kingdom. Their eco-promotion marked a crossover event that collided two greats as BKB’s Barrie Jones had an electric knockout of Luiz Melo. The two promotions announced their partnership in November and it provided a little insight on how the bare knuckle world should operate.

Bare Knuckle Like Boxing, Not MMA

Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) has made their product to model after the UFC: one promotion and the best fighters. They’ve gone so far as to even sign UFC veterans to the promotion. While they’ve had wild success, I don’t believe that’s the best method for the sport of bare knuckle boxing (fighting). As BKB has shown, the regional talent spans too far for a single promotion to snag all of the talent before the brands can get a stranglehold on the market like the UFC did in the early 90’s.

For the sport of bare knuckle to succeed, promoters will have to have a love for the sport and putting on the best fights, not a love of business. While it does seem like a good thing that BKFC is doing to have a pension program for their fighters, having only inter-company matchups could possibly result in more mismatches like Dillon Cleckler vs. Justin Thornton at BKFC 20. The issue stems from matchmaking and not having a deep enough talent pool to meet the requirements of fighters requesting to fight. As a result, a fighter who had been finished in the first round his last five fights gets put against someone he has no business fighting and something tragic happens.

BKB and BYB Extreme have the right idea. The pool of talent isn’t large enough in bare knuckle boxing. One promotion is bound to get a great prospect like Jimmy Sweeney or Julian Lane. Why keep them separate? We’ve seen Lane and Sweeney fight twice and they were good matches. Tyler Goodjohn came over to BKFC and fought a close fight with Charles Bennett and lost to Luis Palomino. If Goodjohn hadn’t signed with BKFC, we would have never seen that fight.

Promoters, with the exception of BKFC, seem to be taking boxing’s approach. A promoter’s job isn’t to be THE fighting company, instead, the promoter needs to promote the fight with the best fighters. Think Golden Boy’s Canelo vs. Mayweather’s Floyd Mayweather. Should the promotions go this route, promotional belts won’t do on an international level, however.

This being the case, there needs to be an organizing of something akin to the International Bare Knuckle Federation (IBKF) or something along the lines of that. Similar to a boxing organization like the WBC or IBF, this organization would oversee rankings and make sure that the best is determined by a Bare Knuckle World Championship. Promotional belts may not go away, but the addition of a World Championship would determine who the best truly is.

This isn’t a call for four sanctioning bodies and mandatories. The talent pool is too small for that in bare knuckle boxing. A simpler, unified ranking system could provide the guidance needed to determine challengers much like the UFC has. But international organization is going to be of the upmost importance as the sport grows. As rapidly as it is becoming popular, bare knuckle needs a solid foundation. There is no room for a UFC-like God-emperor that rules all the top talent. There needs to be oversight. BKB and BYB Extreme’s partnership is the first step to that and it will work wonders for the sport.

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