Former boxer Dat Nguyen remained undefeated in his bare-knuckle career while claiming the BKFC bantamweight title in a grueling back-and-forth war against Johnny Bedford in the KnuckleMania co-main event.
It was a war for all five rounds as the fighters were trading heavy shots throughout but it was Nguyen’s counter punching and accuracy that ultimately helped him stay ahead of the former UFC fighter, who came into the fight as the defending champion. When it was over, the judges scored the fight 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 with Nguyen declared the victor.
“Johnny Bedford, he’s a tough, tough guy,” Nguyen said afterwards. “He has the heart of a lion. We’ve been building this fight. The two best guys possible. Nobody gave me no shot. I bring the best to every single opponent. Johnny motivated me, he can see what I can do.”
Promising to start fast, Bedford sought to bully Nguyen while pressing forward with a flurry of punches and then pushing him into the ropes. Just when it appeared that Bedford was just going to muscle Nguyen around the ring, the former boxer started to connect with his counter punches.
Whenever Bedford got overly aggressive, Nguyen would measure up and throw combinations that were landing with force that put the former UFC fighter on wobbly legs.
As time passed, Bedford stopped getting as wild with his punches, which played to his benefit because he was able to land shots effectively whenever he baited Nguyen into an exchange.
While Bedford was better served when picking and choosing his shots, Nguyen was still connecting with better counter punches and superior accuracy whenever the fighters really started trading blows.
In the final two rounds, Bedford increased his output as he sought to sway the judges in his favor but Nguyen’s ability to stay in the pocket while unleashing short, controlled bursts with his punches helped him remain on target. When the fight came to a close, Nguyen had edged ahead by the slightest of margins but it was a razor-close decision with both athletes leaving everything in the ring.
When the scores were read, Bedford was obviously dejected as he suffered his first loss in bare-knuckle competition but given the way that fight played out, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him earn an automatic rematch with the new champion.