Three years into its existence, the BKFC appears to have found a winning formula.
You want to see former UFC fighters throw down without those pesky four-ounce gloves? The BKFC has already delivered plenty of that and Friday’s headliner between Paige VanZant and Rachael Ostovich continues the promotion’s trend of delivering familiar faces with a bare-knuckle twist.
VanZant and Ostovich have a history, with VanZant having submitted Ostovich with an armbar when the two previously fought at a UFC event in January 2019. Their grappling credentials won’t mean much here as they’ll be given 10 minutes to stand toe-to-toe and swing it out. VanZant has already fought once for the BKFC, losing a decision to Britain Hart. Is Ostovich the opponent she needs to get back on track, or will the proud Hawaiian end the PVZ-BKFC experiment before it has begun?
Speaking of Hart, the breakout star of BKFC: KnuckleMania, she has a grudge match of her own to deal with as she faces rival Jenny Savage on the main card. Hart has won her past two bare-knuckle boxing bouts and a win on Friday could make her an obvious choice to compete for a BKFC title in the future should they make one for her division.
Another element that BKFC 19 has going for it is an oddball mixture of fights featuring rappers and social media influencers, which are sure to produce at least a couple of decent memes, if nothing else.
Let’s take a look at the most intriguing fights on the card.
What: BKFC 19
Where: Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Fla.
Paige VanZant vs. Rachael Ostovich
Paige VanZant, here’s your second chance to make a first impression.
With respect to Rachael Ostovich, the expectation here is that her unproven striking should allow for VanZant to show more of the promise that she hinted at in her losing BKFC debut effort against Britain Hart. We’ve seen VanZant improve her standup considerably since she first fought in the UFC as a 20-year-old to now. It’s her fight to lose.
There’s not much to take away from their UFC Brooklyn encounter. Ostovich focused almost exclusively on wrestling and grappling in that fight, which could be to her benefit if she has some boxing tricks up her sleeve that she’s been hiding. Maybe she can employ a clinch-heavy strategy to tire VanZant out, but with two-minute bare-knuckle boxing rounds, that tactic isn’t likely to go far.
As long as “12 Gauge” isn’t hesitant to pull the trigger in her sophomore BKFC appearance, she should be fine. In a fight that’s strictly standup, VanZant will be the faster fighter and once she capitalizes on the athletic advantage she has, it will be a short night for Ostovich. I predict that VanZant ends this one before the third.
Arnold Adams vs. Mick Terrill
Arnold Adams and Mick Terrill are two tall heavyweights who are going to make it look like the BKFC ring has shrunk once they step in there. This has the potential for a slow start as Adams is known for being patient, while Terrill brings a technical boxing style to the gritty world of bare-knuckle.
The BKFC has produced some blazing heavyweight battles in its short history (who could forget the Joey Beltran-Tony Lopez instant classic from BKFC 1?), but this will resemble more of a traditional boxing match at times. Both men are well-versed in other combat sports, with Adams logging nearly 20 MMA fights and Terrill coming from a muay Thai background. It should be a classy heavyweight bare-knuckle boxing battle, if there is such a thing.
England’s Terrill is making a visit to the U.S. with plenty of hype behind him and he’s angling for a shot at Beltran, who currently carries the heavyweight title. I see him getting the job done against Adams, picking him apart early and scoring a big KO in the second round.
Britain Hart vs. Jenny Savage
At the risk of getting too philosophical, how does one even begin to fight the human embodiment of a feeling? Sure, we just saw that a feeling can apparently marry a human man, but has Jenny Savage bitten off more than she can chew going after the abstract concept that is Britain Hart?
Memorable promo aside, Hart and Savage promises to be the proverbial fireworks as not only do they have genuine animosity for one another (recounting Savage confronting her after her win over Paige VanZant, Hart said she thought Savage was “some random-ass prostitute”), but they’ve proven there’s some substance to their style with both coming off of wins in their previous fights.
Hart showed VanZant how different bare-knuckle is compared to MMA and she outworked the former UFC star for much of their fight. Though she faded in the last round, Hart is clearly a confident fighter who is eager to shine under the bright lights.
That puts the pressure on Savage to goad the bigger Hart into a brawl and if it goes that way Savage has a good chance to steal this one. A veteran of seven MMA bouts, Savage keeps her hands tight and explodes with counter combinations if her opponent gets too close. She’s a good, accurate puncher that’s going to be facing a size and power deficit.
Hart is well aware of her advantages and she’s going to punish Savage with a jab for as long as she wants to. She could circle for five rounds and have Savage swinging at air. I think she’ll turn it up and find a finish sometime after round two.
Blueface vs. Kane “Neumane” Trujillo
The main event of the BKFC 19 “Platform Showdown” portion of the card features rapper Blueface going up against TikTok star Kane Trujillo b.k.a. “Neumane.”
Yes, there are a large portion of fight fans who likely have no idea who either of these two men are; on the flip-side, there’s a more casual (likely younger) audience that has probably consumed 90 percent of the content these two have cranked out over their respective platforms over the years (take a guess which category I fit into. Hint: I can remember when people listened to music on the radio).
Let’s, uh, go to the tape?
Just going by the eyeball test at the weigh-ins, it would appear that Blueface has the height and reach advantage. As far as skills go, there is at least footage of Blueface training for this fight readily available while there appears to be little of that from Trujillo. So Blueface gets the edge for effort here.
Youth is on Trujillo’s side as he’s 21 compared to the relatively ancient Blueface, 24. Trujillo has almost three million followers on TikTok, while Blueface has a top-10 Billboard single to his name (something called Thotiana alongside YG and Cardi B). Neither guy seems all that fun to root for, as Trujillo has been called out for stealing content from other content creators, which I’d assume is a pretty big no-no in the content creation business, while Blueface was criticized for tossing money at people on Skid Row, an act that was called “dehumanizing.”
This took a grim turn. Rather than make an actual pick here (because let’s be real, who could do that with any level of certainty with a fight like this?), let’s do the next best thing.
Pick: Double knockout