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Austin Trout warns Diego Sanchez not to rely on his chin to survive at BKFC: KnuckleMania 3

Leo Santa Cruz v Abner Mares - Weigh-in Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Austin Trout has spent the better part of the past 18 years fighting the best boxers in the world. But he’ll test himself in a new sport on Friday when he makes his debut at BKFC KnuckleMania 3 in New Mexico.

Despite still being ranked in his weight class, the 37-year-old veteran was intrigued by the chance to compete in bare-knuckle, a sport that caught his attention long before he got an offer to test himself in the discipline.

“It’s crazy, because watching bare-knuckle, I would be like, ‘I could do that,’” Trout told MMA Fighting. “It was just one of those things. Then [my manager] Nelson Flores out of the blue was like, ‘Would you do bare-knuckle?’ I said, ‘Yeah, what do you think?’ ... I spoke it into existence.”

Trout said signing with BKFC was exactly what he wanted to do and there was no ulterior motive behind the move. He said he was not in a position where he necessarily needed the money, though a hefty paycheck is always nice.

Trout said fights are being offered to him in boxing, but he wanted to try something new, and BKFC afforded him that chance.

“It’s definitely something I want to do,” he said. “I’m currently right now ranked No. 6 in the WBA, No. 9 in the IBF, so I still have aspirations of trying to make a title run in boxing if possible. But I see this as something that everybody can get behind. It’s entertaining as hell. They do a great job with marketing.

“I look at this as something I was interested in doing, No. 1 and No. 2, it’s possibly a future in combat sports and entertainment.”

In his debut at BKFC KnuckleMania 3, Trout faces UFC legend Diego Sanchez in the co-main event. The fight also serves as Sanchez’s first appearance in bare-knuckle competition after a career in either MMA or grappling competitions.

Trout, who several years ago trained with former UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit, ran into Sanchez from time to time, but they never actually got the chance to work together.

Based on reputation alone, Trout has a lot of respect for Sanchez as an opponent, and he’s familiar enough with MMA to understand the type of opponent he’s about to face. That said, he expects to have a lot of advantages over Sanchez, especially when it comes to his punching power, speed and defense learned through countless hours in the ring.

“The thing about MMA guys, they throw punches at weird angles,” Trout explained. “It’s very out of the book, and if you’re not used to seeing it, it can catch you off guard. I do feel that is a bit of a plus for me that I’ve been around a lot of MMA fighters. I wasn’t the type of boxer like, ‘We don’t do MMA!’ As far as your martial arts go, boxing is one of the purest forms of martial arts, and I’m interested in learning other arts.

“I expect him to try and make it as ugly and as dirty a fight as he can. He’s durable enough to do that. We do expect some semblance of his last performance. Again, it is a different sport. I’m relying on my ability to stun him to keep him off me. My learning ability to fight him on the inside, to make him regret coming inside with me.”

If there’s one thing that Sanchez has maintained for so much of his career it has been his toughness and durability with only four knockouts on his 44 fight resume. He’ll likely rely on that again as he sets foot in a completely different kind of combat sport that negates some of his best weapons like wrestling and grappling.

Trout appreciates that Sanchez has shown a good chin over the years, though he’s not confident that the kind of punishment “The Nightmare” faced in the UFC will prepare him for the punches he’ll absorb from a championship level boxer on Friday.

“If he wants to rely on his chin, he might forget he has a body, too,” Trout warned. “I might smash that body. One might hold up but I doubt both will. Also, you get hit and he’s a veteran in the sport, but he hasn’t been taking punches all his life like I have. There’s a difference with chins as far as boxer and MMA fighters, in my opinion. That’s just my opinion based on experience.

“That’s no shade towards MMA fighters, a lot of them started taking punches when they started doing MMA. Now, MMA has been going on long enough, but young kids could have started fighting younger, and they could get accustomed to the shots. But I’ve been boxing since I was 10, so I’ve been learning how to take a punch since I was 10.”

If Sanchez throws caution to the wind and wants to just bite down on his mouthpiece and trade punches, Trout welcomes him to try but he won’t likely enjoy the results.

“Diego has been relying on his ground game for most of his UFC career except for that one crazy ass fight where he and [Gilbert Melendez] just socked each other up,” Trout said.

“But nonetheless, he hasn’t been punched by a boxer. Not by me. It’s going to be a valiant effort on his part, I’m sure.”

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