Paige VanZant made it to the final bell but the former UFC star ultimately suffered a loss in her bare-knuckle fighting debut as Britain Hart dished out more punishment over five rounds to earn the unanimous decision victory.
Taking on a bare-knuckle veteran in the main event at BKFC: KnuckleMania, VanZant showed plenty of heart as she stepped into the pocket to exchange punches over five rounds but she just couldn’t match the output or the accuracy of her opponent. Hart was consistently the better boxer, showcasing fast hands and a stinging right hand that VanZant struggled to defend all night.
In the end, the judges all scored the fight 49-46 for Hart, who picks up her second straight win in BKFC.
“This is awesome,” Hart said while celebrating her win. “This is as big as you make it. Bec Rawlings knocked my teeth back in BKFC 2. Paige VanZant you knocked my teeth out.
“I made this moment about the people who believed, not the people who didn’t believe.”
In her first appearance after signing a multi-fight deal with BKFC in 2020, VanZant seemed comfortable trading punches with Hart, who is a three-time veteran of the promotion. VanZant showed solid footwork as well as power in the clinch as she grabbed onto Hart’s neck and began throwing a flurry of punches.
Once she was able to break free of VanZant’s grasp, Hart started connecting with shots at a distance including a stiff right hand that found a home on her opponent’s jaw. In the second exchange from the clinch, Hart began digging to the body with punches in succession as she looked to make VanZant pay in every position.
That same right hand from Hart was also giving VanZant trouble all night long as she continuously ate that shot, which eventually resulted in a cut and a small mouse forming under her eye. Late in the fourth round as VanZant attempted to mount a comeback, Hart caught her with another blistering counter punch that snapped the UFC veteran’s head around.
With time running out, VanZant upped her aggression as she attempted to swing the fight in her favor and it appeared for a moment like she may have hurt Hart momentarily. Hart took a breath before she began winging punches in return as the fighters continued to swing at each other with everything left in the tank until the final bell.
When it was over, Hart had clearly landed the more effective punches over five rounds as she won a unanimous decision. Meanwhile, VanZant didn’t stick around long after the scorecards were read as she darted out of the ring with a dejected demeanor washed across her face, obviously disappointed with her performance.
Despite the loss, VanZant still managed to go the full 10 minutes with a bare-knuckle veteran like Hart, who just showcased a better boxing arsenal over five rounds.