Reggie Barnett Jr on Johnny Bedford sequel, BKFC 20, and title belts
Reggie Barnett Jr takes on Johnny Bedford in a bare-knuckle boxing rematch this Friday. 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 Barnett Jr ahead of this high-stakes sequel. The excerpts from our conversation can be found below.
Getting in work at 757 Boxing Club and the Barnett ownership legacy there
“Me and my father’s gym. We’ve been in business, about 14 years now. So next year after I’m a world champion, he’s going to turn the reigns over to me. I’m really excited.”
Reggie Barnett Jr continued, “My father originally opened the gym to try to keep me out of trouble. Keep me off the streets. Unfortunately it didn’t really work. I still went through my struggles, personal ones. But I came home after doing my time, moved to a new location. I just hit the ground running. You know the rest is kind of history where I’m at now. I was an absolute nobody. Just trying to fight to stay out of trouble… Fighting saved my life, bare-knuckle changed my life.”
Reggie Barnett Jr
The road from the BKFC tryouts to this August 2021 championship bid
“It’s been life-changing and life-altering. But it’s really more or less not really about the titles or anything like that, you know. Finding my way in the fight game. Just having opportunities to grow as a person. As a human being in and outside of the ring.”
If he felt like his TKO win over DeMarcus Corley was enough to net a title shot
“I was guaranteed a title shot. It didn’t matter. As long as I beat Chop Chop, it was in my contract that the next time they put up the 135-pound title that I would be the person fighting. It was just a matter of who I was actually going to fight. We all know who I was initially supposed to fight (Dat Nguyen)… My energy is ‘who is that?’. I proved what I said tenfold and I didn’t even have to fight him. His actions alone proved that. The type of person he is and the type of man he is. In comparison to the rest of us fighters. What we stand for and what we strive for.”
That performance at BKFC 16 against the caliber of opponent Chop Chop is
“For me, my whole life has been about redemption. It’s been about growth. About pushing the barriers and proving to myself that I can continue to strive to be the best version of me. And beating him like that. One, I was shocked. But also, I knew it solidified for me that I’m still on the right path. I was still growing. As a fighter and human being first. That’s all I’m really really striving to do. Because there were times in my life where I was so stagnant.”
“So, complacent in places that I probably shouldn’t have been stagnant. It showed me that I was really about this fight game. I’m at that level, like I say, I feel like I’m pound for pound, no matter what anybody says, the best fighter in the league right now. And I say that because a lot of these other guys came in with previous accolades. Time in other sports that allowed them to get a spot and shine that I was not afforded. I had to fight, literally from the tryout, all the way to be the main event at BKFC 20.”
If there is redemption in this rematch with Johnny Bedford
“That is a fair assessment. You know everybody’s so wrapped up in the main event, the titles blah blah blah. I’m going out there to prove to myself what I knew all along. And then also to prove to myself that I did grow. As a fighter, and as a man. I feel like I let him beat me a little mentally before the fight happened. And then after the fight started, we all saw what happened. I got up off the canvas and I threw everything out the window. Fought Johnny’s fight. I wasn’t there yet. Wasn’t ready for that, I guess, the essence of being at that level.”
“But I know in my heart now with everything that I’m doing. My past, my purpose that God has put in front of me that I would not have been afforded this opportunity if I wasn’t ready for it. And then I had to go back and look at why I was doing this. I forgot that I wasn’t just doing this to be a champion or the best fighter in the world. I had to remember that I was doing this for the people who don’t have a voice. To continue to use my platform. For people who have gone through the things that I’ve gone through. Or maybe helped try to pull a few kids off the fence.”
Reggie Barnett Jr continued, “Like I was. And my dad tried so hard to pull me down. He just couldn’t. Sometimes it takes somebody who’s actually been through it. So being able to go out to perform at the best of my ability. Win, lose, or draw is a voice and a representation of everything that God has done for me in my life. What he can do for other people, and for me, that is a bigger purpose than anything. Than any belt I could ever win. That is so much more.”
If Barnett Jr is going to showcase the Educated Hands moniker in this BKFC 20 bout
“Definitely. I’ve had an opportunity with them. Another thing I want to point out is that I had to fight my way back for another championship. It took me two years to get back to another shot at 135 pounds. Johnny, literally lost his belt and they turned around and gave him another opportunity. He didn’t have to really, I guess, earn his spot again. I had to earn my spot. I had to prove my worth to this company over and over and over and over again.”
“Just because he came from the UFC. He’s Johnny Bedford, he doesn’t have to do that. So my mission and my purpose is to show that us no names, as I call it sometimes, if you’re willing to sacrifice. Dedicate yourself, work hard enough that the doors open. God opens the doors because he makes the paths to open the doors for you. That’s exactly what I did. So I plan on going out there and showing how much I’ve grown as a person and a fighter.”
“The IQ is so much better. I made this sport my own. You see people trying to take what I brought. Every fight and implement it in their own game. And then I’ve seen other fighters bring things and I put it right back in my wheel well. Came out and used it. That’s what I love about this sport. We’re still seeing the innovative stage.”
Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship
Parting thoughts for Reggie Barnett Jr
“So I’m always gonna drop my quote. Put God first to go into anything. If you’re struggling, try praying a little bit. But we’re never limited by the circumstances that are created around us. Only the ones that we create in our own minds. What that means is. No matter where you come from, what you can do, what walk of life. If you want something in this life… go out there and go get it.”
“Don’t let anything ever deter you from believing or thinking that your goal is not accomplishable…Then to all my sponsors, thank you all so much. There’s like fifteen of them. So if you go to my website it’s called EdcuatedHands.Co, you can check out my sponsors, their services.”
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.