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Johnny Bedford

Photo credit to Phil Lambert/ BKFC

Johnny Bedford on Reggie Barnett Jr title rematch at BKFC 20

Johnny Bedford tests skills with Reggie Barnett Jr in a bare-knuckle boxing rematch. The BKFC and Police Gazette lightweight championships are on the line and are presently vacant.

This title fight goes down at BKFC 20 and it’s apropos that it transpires on August 20th. The fistic fireworks transpire at Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Mississippi with the broadcast going on the BKTV App.

I spoke with Bedford prior to this hugely consequential prizefight. The excerpts from our conversation can be found below.


The training for Johnny Bedford as of late and the tumultuous timeline prior

“Training is actually, it’s perfect. I’m sure we’ll talk about it a little bit. But I made some decisions and stepped outside. Joined a whole new team of sorts. I don’t want to ramble too much right at the beginning. But I own a big school and I coach at a high level. I’ve always done my training camps inside of my own facilities. And for the first time because of having to make some personal choices with people in my life, I’ve had to look outward. It’s probably a decision I needed to make years ago because it’s the best decision I ever made.”

“I get to step outside of being an owner, being a head coach. All those hats you wear inside the building you own. To just being held accountable like a professional fighter. It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. I train day in, every single day with the best boxers in Fort Worth, Texas. I’ve got an amazing coach, amazing team…We’ll see the best Johnny Bedford we’ve ever seen. I’m very confident saying that.”

Johnny Bedford

A sense of clarity by leaving behind previous gym drama and being in a new space

“Man, that’s actually a really good way to say it. Because the guy that I removed from my life, he was a business partner. But he was always my boxing coach. That’s how we met. I asked him to be my boxing coach 15 years ago. Couldn’t do it anymore, man. I just kept getting let down by this guy. And my loyalty just ran out. You said did it give me clarity? That I made the right decision? Yes, that’s exactly what it did. I kind of almost had that moment, because I knew this is what I needed to do years ago. All my loyalty to him did was hold me back anyways.”

“I was training inside my own facility where I was comfortable and I was still the boss. Now I stepped myself out. I’m held accountable as a professional athlete. With nothing but professional athletes surrounding me that are held to the same exact standards. It’s been the best decision I’ve made. And I’m really, really excited to go out and perform.”

The work Johnny Bedford has gotten at FHG boxing gym

“The truth was I needed to be coached. I needed someone to hold me accountable. And I needed a team. At my gym I’m the coach and the truth is we’re more of an MMA gym than a boxing gym. I’ve got amazing MMA guys. We’ll be coaching in the UFC here very soon, I promise you. But I step out, I go to a boxing only gym. There’s guys there that are training to be world champions and that’s their goal.”

“Obviously in boxing, so the sparring is a whole nother level. But yeah, ultimately it was stepping outside and just; for these three hours a day, you’re going to be a professional athlete. Doesn’t matter what phone calls happen. Doesn’t matter. You’re not a business owner, you’re not a coach, you’re not anybody, you’re a fighter. I’m excited to finally be in this place and get to perform again.”


Johnny Bedford being a cornerman at recent CFFC shows and his coaching endeavors

“That’s my passion, man. If I’m being really honest if Bare Knuckle wasn’t a thing, I’d probably be retired and full-time coaching. I don’t think I’d still be fighting mixed martial arts. I will always love mixed martial arts, but coaching is my passion. And I do a really good job at it.”

‘Most comments I get on Instagram all the time is that people see me on UFC Fight Pass more than they don’t. Pretty much every weekend I’m coaching on UFC Fight Pass. That’s not true at all. It’s not every weekend but it is quite often. I’ve got a really good team. And I’m very proud of them. Just wait, I’ll be Greg Jackson-ish here in a couple of years. I promise that.”

Johnny Bedford’s last fight with Dat Nguyen and the bad blood subsequent to the bout

“Dat Nguyen don’t want to fight. I retired Dat Nguyen.  I said that. There’s more than one way to say that you don’t want to fight. That’s ask for stupid amounts of money that you know no one’s gonna pay you. You’re not worth whatever stupid number you came up with. I know what they’re paying me and I know what they’re probably offering you. You don’t want to fight. You don’t want to fight me, you don’t wanna fight Reggie. He wants this magic pot of gold to fight whoever.”


“So he thinks Luis Palomino is gonna get it. I don’t know what they’re gonna pay him for that fight but if he does, it’s kind of unfortunate for me. Because he might be damaged goods by the time I get a hold of him. He’s coming back to 135. He has to. He’s not gonna win at 155. There’s no division at 145 right now. So for him to get in that second fight he’s gonna have to come to 35. He’s got a big frickin mouth, he’s gonna still claim he’s the champ.”

Johnny Bedford continued, “And I’m gonna whoop his ass. Because I’ve erased personal problems. I’m in a really good place in life, training, and no one’s gonna beat me. Dat Nguyen, Reggie Barnett, it don’t matter. It doesn’t matter. I’m gonna fight Reggie. I’m gonna beat Reggie. If Dat’s next, that’s my hope. We’ll see.”

The Johnny Bedford vs Reggie Barnett Jr sequel where there’s a lot of mutual respect heading in

“Yeah, since Reggie and I fought it’s been crazy. We instantly respected each other after fighting. And then because of that, I’ve gotten to know him. Not like super personally but I know his dad and his mother. I talked to his mother three weeks ago on the phone.”

“Dat made some stupid posts and she messaged me, I called her right away. No, mam you don’t have to worry about that clown. Dat Nguyen’s not coming back. Me and your son are still fighting. I’ll see you in three weeks. I hope you’re doing well. She couldn’t believe that I called her but I like the Barnett family. I root for Reggie every fight he’s in. Except for this one.”


Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship

What Reggie Barnett Jr has been able to do since the first fight with Johnny Bedford

“He’s won three straight. Has it been impressive? Not really. I don’t mean to be an ass or be disrespectful but not really. I understood the Matt Murphy fight. That was his first-ever stoppage I believe. But that was a stoppage because of a cut. Matt Murphy and him both wanted to continue. Matt Murphy’s a tough fight, he’s just awkward. He’s hard to fight like I didn’t have a great fight against him either. So I understand that one. The DeMarcus Corley, Chop Chop Corley fight was ugly on Reggie’s part. Reggie turned into a high school wrestler. ”

“Not a kid with eighty-some amateur boxing fights. He turned into a high school wrestler scared to death to box with Chop Chop. Picking him up and slamming him. He didn’t get a TKO stoppage. He just made that old man quit. That guy is a 47-year-old man who said fuck this. Wrestling isn’t what I signed up for. I’m going home. But you can’t go off performances because again I’ve never fought Chop Chop. Actually that’s an interesting, hard fight. I’d probably wrestle him a lot too. That man can box.”

“He’s motivated. I know that. He thinks he’s the best guy in the world. I think he thinks this is gonna change his life and he’s gonna be a world champion for the first time. I respect the hell out of that. This is your second chance to make a dream come true. And you get to take out the one guy that beat you. It’s just unfortunate it’s not gonna happen for him.”

Johnny Bedford continued, “I’m a fan. But we can fight ten times, I’m gonna win ten times. That’s how this saga goes. We’re not going to be these guys that need to fight trilogy fights and stuff like that… Everyone knows that I’m just the better man. At this game at least. I don’t mean that as a person. But I’m the better Bare Knuckle boxer. I go 2-0, there’s no denying it.”

If fights at 145 lbs still entice Johnny Bedford going forward

“I’d go to 45. But 45 is dead, unfortunately. I say in every interview, the best division in bare-knuckle boxing right now is 135 pounds. There’s no denying it. You got Reggie Barnett (and) you got myself, we’re 11-2 in the sport. Dat Nguyen’s undefeated, Jarod Grant is undefeated. No other division can say anything like that with their top four guys. We’re the best division in bare-knuckle fighting. I would gladly go up to 145. I’ve got the size and stature to do it, I’m a big 135er. But it’s dead right now. There’s not a fight there.”

“So I guess I’m gonna eat a lot more salad and make 135 because it’s hot. That’s what they’re gonna pay me for and I’m going to be the champion. I’m gonna have someone else coming for this belt. I’m hoping obviously, I’m hoping that Dat’s my next fight after Reggie. But as long as there’s a paycheque, I’m gonna be there. So it doesn’t matter who. I can say who I want to fight but you give me anybody, I’ll be there.”

Parting thoughts for Johnny Bedford

“I’m super thankful for guys like you and anyone that’s watching. Because it’s the people like you that care enough to watch this that allow me to live this dream. I truly mean that. I’ve been on this ride since my first amateur fight in 2003. So I just said I’m gonna fight. It’s been crazy. Been ups and downs, ups and downs but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

“And it’s because of people like you that give a shit. That want to watch me fight, that allow me to do this. So I appreciate it more than you know. I’ve been in this game so I know the business side of it. For me to get paid, the promotions gonna get paid. So I need y’all support. Then it all comes together. I’m just thankful for the opportunity, thankful for everyone watching, and tuning in. Gonna get my belt back.”

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