This weekend’s BKFC 18 event features a hefty roster of MMA veterans in featured roles, and Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship president David Feldman believes we’re likely to see more crossover moving forward.
At Saturday’s event, veteran names such as Joey Beltran, Luis Palomino, Hector Lombard, Joe Riggs, Thiago Alves and Pearl Gonzalez all play prominent roles on the night’s main card, which streams live on the BKTV app and Bareknuckle.tv. Feldman said the company didn’t intend to book a card so full of cagefighting veterans, but the card sure lines up to be a rather MMA-fan-friendly event.
“Like, we didn’t say, ‘Let’s do it that way,’” Feldman told MMA Junkie. “We started putting matches together, and it just kind of fell into place that way. They all kind of really, really make sense here. All the fights I think are matched very, very competitively. I just I’m excited, man. I think it’s going to be a great card and a great night of fights.”
Lately, it seems boxing has become quite a popular pursuit for mixed martial artists in the latter stages of their career. Ben Askren was actually retired from competition when he was lured to the ring for a big payday, though the result of his bout with Jake Paul was certainly forgettable. Longtime UFC champion Anderson Silva was successful in his post-octagon boxing contest with Julio Cesar Chanvez Jr. Former UFC champ Frank Mir went the distance with former boxing champ Steve Cunningham in their contest, and former UFC champ Tyron Woodley will step into the squared circle later this year, as well.
While some of these matchups brought questions of safety for the athletes involved, Feldman believes that boxing – even the bare-knuckle variety – is a great way for MMA fighters to extend their career.
“With BKFC and bare-knuckle fighting, that versus MMA, you’re training the whole body – ground game, your feet, your shins, your thighs,” Feldman said. “Everything is taking a pounding and taking a beating, and that’s why I respect the MMA fighters so much – and I still think this is is an unbelievably brutal sport, meaning you’re getting hit with bare knuckles, so you’re going to get cut, you’re going to get hurt, you’re going to have injuries. But it’s not as much wear and tear on your body going into the fight, so I think that’s what’s giving these guys a little bit of resurgence, a little bit of extension at the end of their careers right now, and they’re performing at the top of their level. They’re not like coming in and not really looking good. They’re coming in and looking fantastic, so I think not having to have that wear and tear in their training leading up to these fights is giving them the advantage.”
Feldman said BKFC will continue to search across all combat sports for potential signings, but it’s hard not to notice the trend of MMA athletes making the transition to his promotion.
July sees a headlining bout between former UFC women’s contenders Paige VanZant and Rachael Ostovich, who meet in a rematch of their 2019 octagon clash. Later this year, 15-time UFC veteran Alan Belcher is expected to make his promotional debut, some eight years after his final octagon appearance. But Feldman doesn’t see the appearances as some type of late-career cash grab that’s putting the athletes at risk and encourages skeptics to take a closer look this Saturday night.
“I think it gives these guys a little bit of extra chance at the end of their careers,” Feldman said. “And we have a lot of guys that are dedicated and signed like three-, five-year deals with us that just want to grow with us that never had a professional fight before but had an extensive amateur career. So, you know, it can really go either way, and we’re going to see what happens. But Saturday night is exciting. This Saturday, June 26, live on the bare-knuckle TV app from the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida, at BKFC.com.”
To see the full interview with Feldman, check out the video below.