Who could have fathomed that Bec Rawlings would be the one leading the bare-knuckle boxing resurgence in the United States after more than 100 years?
The former UFC fighter and Ultimate Fighter alum won her second straight bare-knuckle bout Saturday night, defeating Britain Hart by split decision (47-48, 50-45, 49-45) in the main event of Bare Knuckle FC 2 in Biloxi, Miss. With the victory, Rawlings retained the National Police Gazette women’s bare-knuckle boxing belt.
Rawlings didn’t just beat Hart, she dominated the boxer for five rounds, despite the odd dissenting scorecard. Rawlings appeared to drop Hart in the fourth round, though referee Dan Miragliotta ruled it a slip. The Aussie landed a jab that caused Hart’s nose to open up with blood in the third.
“You win this fight by being aggressive, not by running,” Rawlings said afterward. “I’m still the queen of bare knuckle.”
Rawlings, 29, was released by the UFC after falling to Ashlee Evans-Smith at UFC 223 in April, but has made a quick career turnaround, becoming the face of the upstart Bare Knuckle FC. Rawlings defeated boxer Alma Garcia by second-round TKO (doctor’s stoppage) at the inaugural event in June.
“I wanted to test myself against boxers,” said Rawlings, who trains out of Alliance MMA in San Diego.
So far, so good. Rawlings has acclimated herself to the bare-knuckle game incredibly well, outboxing said boxers and bloodying them up.
In the co-main event, UFC veteran Chris Lytle absolutely demolished Drew Lipton, getting a knockout finish at 1:18 of the first round. Lytle knocked Lipton down three separate times in the first round and Lipton essentially waved the bout off himself after the third time. Lytle opened up a nasty cut over Lipton’s left eye on the first exchange and Lipton never really recovered.
Joey Beltran could not re-capture the magic of the first Bare Knuckle FC event in June, when he beat Tony Lopez in one of the best fights of the year. Arnold Adams defeated Beltan on Saturday in the semifinals of the Bare Knuckle FC heavyweight tournament via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) at :09 of the fourth round. Adams was able to open up cuts around Beltran’s eyes and that’s what did him in.
Also in the heavyweight semifinals, Sam Shewmaker won a bizarre split decision over Maurice Jackson. It was a bout mired by clinching, crowd booing and Jackson — the much taller man — growing frustrated. Jackson knocked Shewmaker down early, but Jackson was docked a point later for excessive clinching.
Kendall Grove, a UFC and Bellator veteran, acclimated himself very well in his bare-knuckle boxing debut, beating Bruce Abramski via unanimous decision. Grove knocked Abramski down in the fourth round with a combination and dominated for the majority of the bout.
Charles Bennett, one of the most infamous names in MMA history, fell to Michael McDonald via TKO in the fourth round when he was dropped due to badly damaged left hand. “Felony,” formerly known as “Krazy Horse,” also dropped earlier in the bout due to pain in his right hand.
On the undercard, Reggie Barnett Jr. defeated James Clayton Burns by unanimous decision, Jamie Campbell beat Dale Sopi by unanimous decision.