Kaleb Harris

Photo via bareknuckle.tv

Kaleb Harris on Home State Title Bid at BKFC Fight Night: Jackson

Kaleb Harris test skills with Elvin Brito in a rematch at BKFC Fight Night: Jackson. This main event title bout transpires on January 29th and emanates from Jackson Convention Complex in Jackson, Mississippi.

BKFC welterweight gold is on the line and I spoke with Kaleb Harris ahead of this monumental bout. Excerpts from our chat are below.

How the buildup for this one represents that dreams are becoming a reality

“It’s been an emotional ride. I’ve been in this sport, people don’t realize but I’ve been fighting for 10 years. I’m 28. Literally from the time I was a senior in high school I’ve been fighting. Chasing a dream that one-day fighting would be able to pay the bills. After ten long years, it’s finally starting to pay dividends. And here I am now 10 years later. Went from being a kid at seven years old wanting to be a power ranger. To fighting for a world title. It’s been a wild ride.”

The involvement of Kaleb Harris in a myriad of combat sports and the natural aptitude for bare-knuckle boxing

“I just wanted to try it one night. BKFC two I saw in Biloxi or three. I watched those and I was like I want to do this. So I started putting out feelers trying to find it. By the time I got a hold of somebody, BKFC 5 was coming to Biloxi again. I got on that card. Since then, I’ve just grown and evolved with the sport.”

Kaleb Harris

Sweet science-centric training and the defensive amendments needed when transitioning to a gloveless competition

“There’s good and there’s bad when it comes with it. I use a lot of movements and a lot of my aggression from MMA to help win fights. A good example of where boxing doesn’t transition well defensively to bare-knuckle is you go back and look at my last fight with Derrick Findley. I think it was the clip that BKFC shared where I’m throwing like four or five right hands. A lot of people wanted to comment in the comments and talk about how he didn’t actually land those punches, his hand was up. Well yeah, Findley’s hand was up and against the side of his head. So there was his hand basically cushioning the punch, so I wasn’t cutting him.”

“But at the same time, you got a guy that’s 175 pounds at the time. Throwing everything he’s got and the only thing that’s stopping his fist from hitting your head is about an inch and a half worth of hand. So regardless of the fact that the hand-blocked from making contact with his head, he still took damage. In Bare Knuckle boxing, you have to understand that you can’t just take a shot to give a shot anymore. I mean, some people still choose to do that, but you’re kind of taking your advantage out of the game.”

“You’re leaving it up to chance or who’s got the tougher chin. And I’ve never been a big fan of gambling. So I’m not one to just stand there in the pocket anymore. I’ve learned hey, if I can hit him without me getting cut in the face, then that means I can fight sooner. Which means I can get more money this year. So that’s what I continue to focus on. Being aggressive but also being conscious of where I’m at.”

Kaleb Harris’ experiences as an MMA fighter and the crossover skills within BKFC’s clinch positions

“I won’t lie and say there hasn’t been a couple of times where it was just muscle memory. I could go back and watch the fight afterward and you can see where the muscle memory took over in the clinch. Was starting to step in for a hip toss. I was using my Judo grips to lock down arms so that we can get separation. Or I was using it to stop him from punching me, so I could punch him.”

“Other than just amping up my training, my training has just become that much more technical overall. When I’m training MMA, I’m training my grips. I’m still thinking about my boxing. I’ve got several professional fighters that are my teammates that still have fights coming up. I still train my wrestling and all that plays a part. I think that’s why when you look at it, I’ve never been finished in a fight. And I’ve had seven bare-knuckle fights and that’s saying something… I’ve never broken my hand.”

“Because I trained to be able to last the entire fight. I don’t put all my faith in a one-punch knockout. I don’t put all my faith in outpointing somebody. I’m in there to fight like a wild animal for however many rounds we got to go. If it gets dirty, it gets dirty. If we can make it pretty, we make it pretty.”


Kaleb Harris being one of the grassroots talents of BKFC and now getting this world title opportunity

“Man, it’s been a wild ride. My first big BKFC fight was the Jason Knight-Artem Lobov first fight. I went from being a local top 10 prospect in Mississippi with a three and one record in MMA. I’m sitting here next to Leonard Garcia, Isaac Vallie-Flagg, Jim Alers, Jason Knight who just came out of the UFC, Artem Lobov, and I. They’re signing posters like it’s just another day at the job. I’m over here and I’m asking one of the announcers and I’m like, am I supposed to go sign something? He goes, yeah, you’re fighting. You sign the cards.”

“I’m over here. I’m like the new kid in middle school. Where you don’t know anybody other than your one friend that came with you. And it’s like, okay, what do I do and how do I not make myself look like an idiot? By the end of that night, man, Artem Lobov came up to me and talked to me like a normal person.”

“All the other big UFC stars that were there, they came and talked to me. Just were introducing themselves. And it’s crazy to know that I know these guys on a personal level. We’ve literally talked about fights and talked about cross-training. Now in a matter of two years, my reach as far as like gyms that I can train at. Jim Alers, I’m still planning to go down when I get a chance to go back down to Florida, and train with Jim some more. Me and Jim are super cool after our fight. It was a hell of a fight. He was the hardest fight I’ve ever had. But at the end of it, we earned each other’s respect and we still occasionally check in on each other.”

BKFC Fight Night: Jackson

The importance of Kaleb Harris using his platform to raise awareness around suicide/ mental health 

“Since I started doing this whole fighting thing. The only thing I’ve ever really cared about, I mean, yes, this was a dream of mine to be a champion one day. But as I got older, the only thing I really care about is the next young nerdy kid that gets picked on in school that decides he wants to be a Power Ranger. I want him to be able to look one day at my fights and say you know what, he was just like me. He grew up and became a world champion, or he fought for world titles, you know. Why can’t I do that? That’s all I care about. Because at the end of the day, if you’re not pushing for somebody to be better than you, then you’re wasting your time.”

“I hope to one day have every one of my students be able to submit me at will. Be able to outclass me at boxing because that means I did my job. With my platform that I’m growing now, it’s one thing to push myself. But it’s another to have a reason. Suicide and depression have always been a big thing in my life with me dealing with anxiety. So I know there’s got to be other people out there especially the stigma of men can’t be weak.”

“If I can show that a guy that can go out there and fight five two-minute rounds of bare-knuckle boxing and still turn around and talk about how there’s days where depression hits. I’m crying all the way home from the gym and I have no idea why. Then maybe I can prove to some other man out there, some other boy out there, that it’s okay to not be okay from time to time. As long as you don’t sit down and wallow in it. But you get up and push through.”

Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship

The biggest differences from the Elvin Brito fight in July 2020 versus where both fighters are at for the rematch

“I watch that fight almost every night. Watch him get his hand raised. I watch myself make mistakes. Watch openings that he leads. I’ve watched other fights of him with (Luis) Palomino. I’ve watched other fights of him with his other opponents. And I’ve watched what they did versus what he did. Begun to study and read the man. The more and more I look back at that fight. Yes, everybody, that was a hard fight for me. When I found out that I had lost that split decision, it was rough for a little bit. I blamed the judges. I blamed everybody else. And finally, I had to admit about two weeks in that it was nobody’s fault but my own that I lost that fight.”

“Since then I haven’t watched the fight until this camp came back around. But I always said I wanted my rematch. I wanted my rematch. To this day, anybody that I’ve lost to in BKFC I want to fight again. The only difference is right now, Elvin is the only one that I’ve lost to that has something that I want. He was ranked number one, I said if we fought again it needed to be for the title, and here it is. But I beat myself in that fight. The wrong Kaleb came in and fought that night. And so since then, I’ve had two fights. I’ve had Noah Cutter.”

“Who was a guy that just ran his mouth and finally talked his way into getting a fight with me. And we saw how that went. Derrick Findley who although may not have had the greatest boxing record, boxed some of the greatest boxers in his time. Had over 60 something professional fights to my 20 something fights total. And I outboxed the boxer. I have grown, I have evolved, and on January 29th in Jackson, Mississippi, you’re going to see the best Lionheart that has ever stepped into that ring. The only thing that you have to look forward to after that is the next fight. Because I’ll be that much better from this fight.”

Parting thoughts for Kaleb Harris

“Just everybody, if you can’t buy a ticket to this fight, please download the BKFC TV app. If you want to message me for a referral code, I’ll get it out to you. Simply five dollars a month and you get access to all kinds of bare-knuckle fights. It’s a great app. The company is growing and getting better every day. And then I want to thank my sponsors.”

“Mary Jane House of Glass for some of the best glasswork I’ve ever seen done. Not to mention GreenHeart Wellness for their CBD products. Kombat Ape for the gear, Downrange Lifestyle for the packages, Izzy’s Beauty. Jimmy Lyle of Lyle’s Machinery, Mike’s Power Washing. There’s so many more. Just off the top of my head, those are just some of the best sponsors that I’ve had. I literally could not do this without you guys. And I appreciate all the support.”

author avatar
Dylan Bowker
I've been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I've hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I've been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I've provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I've worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.