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BKFC president David Feldman blown away by the growth of bare-knuckle fighting since promotion first launched

Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship - Lombard vs. Mundell Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

When Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships launched just over two years ago, company founder and president David Feldman predicted that fight fans would fall in love with the sport.

It was certainly a gamble at the time considering the kind of resistance mixed martial arts faced for years after being banned in numerous states in the U.S. not to mention countries around the world. Bare-knuckle fighting was an old school form of combat sports that largely just went away with the growth of boxing and MMA.

Still, Feldman believed that with the correct promotion, along with the best possible matchups, people would be drawn to bare-knuckle fighting. Ahead of BKFC’s 14th flagship show on Friday, the promotion’s president is happy to say he was right, especially given the growth of the sport worldwide.

In fact just recently Poland’s KSW promoted a bare-knuckle style main event featuring former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett. While he didn’t have anything to gain from another promotion putting on a bare-knuckle fight, Feldman still felt a sense of pride seeing the influence that BKFC had on the sport since debuting in 2018.

“It’s amazing,” Feldman told MMA Fighting ahead of BKFC 14. “That Poland fight was really cool because what they did initially when they advertised it as “BKFC style fighting” and I was like holy sh*t that’s pretty cool! I mean it’s good that we have competition around the world. Russia’s doing some smaller leagues over there and I have TV rights deals over there so we’re going to be doing an event in Russia soon. We’re doing an event in Thailand in December. But it’s great with all these other organizations because what it does is it makes the sport more popular.

“A lot of guys might go ‘I don’t want competition’ — I want competition. Because I know what we do right and in order for anyone to catch us, it’s not going to be easy. But on that same note, I want competition to teach people and get all the different combat sports fans watching bare-knuckle and ultimately watching BKFC.”

BKFC already made waves earlier this year when signing former UFC star Paige VanZant to an exclusive contract after she reached free agency. That deal came together a year after BKFC put on one of the most talked about cards in all of combat sports when Artem Lobov faced off with former boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi.

Feldman promises that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the plans he has in place for BKFC as he continues to conquer new mountains in the combat sports space.

“I really, truly just take it one day at a time but we’re planning,” Feldman said. “And if this gets to where we’re planning to be, it’s going to be a monster. Because the stars are aligning for us. Our team is getting bigger and better and better. We’re doing things we never thought we’d be doing with some network TV deals, some syndication deals we’re going to be doing with different networks around the country.

“The growth of it and how far it’s gone so fast is amazing but I really think we’re going to be a real big competitor in the combat sports landscape here probably in another 18 months. It’s a dream but it’s seeing everything come to fruition. Eighteen months to two years from now, we’re going to be a major major player in combat sports.”

This weekend at BKFC 14, the promotion will feature a pair of high profile fights including a 155-pound championship bout between former UFC fighter Jim Alers as he takes on World Series of Fighting veteran Luis Palomino.

The lightweights have engaged in a fiery war of words after an altercation erupted as a BKFC press conference earlier this year and Feldman believes that’s going to translate into a crowd-pleasing battle on Friday night.

“Neither of them has a reverse gear,” Feldman said about Alers vs. Palomino. “That’s what makes them so special. They both have a killer instinct as you saw with Jim Alers jumping off in each and every one of his fights trying to crack the guys. You have Luis Palomino, who really doesn’t know how to dance around and back up. He doesn’t have that in him. It’s not in his DNA. He just moves forward and he fights. He’s had a lot of Fights of the Night.

“These are just two different breeds of guys and that’s what’s going to make for such an exciting fight.”

In the co-main event, Dat Nguyen will scare off with Reggie Barnett Jr. with the winner likely moving onto a title fight against reigning BKFC champion Johnny Bedford.

“Unfortunately, Johnny Bedford got injured and had to pull out and Reggie Barnett stepped up and ironically he had some words with Dat Nguyen at his last fight,” Feldman revealed. “Dat was yelling some stuff in the ring and they had some words after the fight. It set up a good lead into this fight.”

The card airs live on the BKFC app as well as FITE TV with 11 total fights including the prelims, which air on the BKFC YouTube channel.

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