Just one day after finding out she was released by the UFC, Bec Rawlings got an interesting message on Facebook. It was a fight offer — but not for MMA. This was a whole different animal.
Rawlings told Ariel Helwani on Tuesday’s edition of The MMA Hour that in early May a representative for Bare Knuckle FC reached out to her and she was intrigued. Rawlings said she contacted her manager and coach Eric Del Fierro of Alliance MMA in San Diego and basically gave her his blessing.
“This is exactly a sport that would work for you,” Rawlings said Del Fierro told her. “If you want to go for it, go for it. I’m not against it.”
Rawlings, 29, is not one to turn down a good scrap. So, she agreed to the bout on the historic card, which takes place Saturday night in Cheyenne, Wyo. Bare Knuckle FC will be one of the first legally sanctioned bare-knuckle boxing event in the United States since the 1800s. Wyoming passed a law regulating bare knuckle earlier this year.
Rawlings, an Australia native, will take on Alma Garcia, a boxer from Colorado, at the event, which will air on pay-per-view. It’ll be a five-round fight with only two minutes per round. Most importantly, the only offense allowed will be with their fists. Fighters will be able to wrap their wrists and thumbs up until one inch from the knuckles.
Bare knuckle isn’t all that different than MMA gloves, Rawling said. The gloves used in the UFC really just protect hands from “superficial cuts,” she said. The key with bare knuckle, Rawlings said, is being more economical and precise with punches. You can’t real off a 10-punch combination like you would with boxing gloves.
“It’s kind of cool,” Rawlings said. “I’m excited about that aspect of it.”
In preparation, Rawlings said she has been trying to strengthen her hands. She’s been hitting pads without gloves and gone through iron-palm training, an ancient Chinese martial arts method that involves rubbing of herbs on her hands when she’s done.
“We’ve gone real old-school on this,” said Rawlings, who arrived in Cheyenne on Sunday.
Unlike MMA, which has five-minute rounds, Rawlings will only have two minutes to work with per round Saturday night. She says she knows she has to get after it quicker. But, at the end of the day, it’s still just combat — and that’s what she does. Rawlings has been a pro MMA fighter for seven years.
“It doesn’t really matter to me,” Rawlings said. “I just have to fight. A fight is a fight to me. I don’t care how long the round is, how many rounds it is. I just show up to fight.”
Rawlings was released from the UFC after falling to Ashlee Evans-Smith at UFC 223 in April. It was her fourth straight loss. “Rowdy Bec” admitted that she spent far too long trying to cut to strawweight and didn’t know the UFC was adding a women’s flyweight division until it was too late.
“I wish I didn’t fight my last fight at 115 against Tecia [Torres in 2017],” Rawlings said. “It was a horrible weight cut, I nearly killed myself trying to make that weight. It was just a really bad decision going ahead with that fight.”
Rawlings performed much better at 125 in her final two UFC fights. She said she has begun discussions with Invicta about a contract and has designs on being back in the UFC one day. Rawlings said she told UFC president Dana White as much via social media recently.
For now, though, she’s going to try her hands — her bare hands — at a brand new thing Saturday night.
“I think the bright lights of the UFC kind of got to me a little bit there,” Rawlings said. “I kind of went away from what I’ve known for, especially in my last fight. I really didn’t let go as much as I should have. I feel like there’s no pressure [Bare Knuckle FC]. I’m just gonna go out there and have fun and fight. I love fighting, so yeah. I’ll just try not to let any pressure or anything get to me.”