Bare Knuckle Fighting – How do you feel about it? A revitalised part of our History

Have you seen Bare Knuckle Fighting FC? Well Bare knuckle fighting has been happening throughout human history long before MMA or Boxing was really born.

Well with Bare Knuckle Fighting FC (BKFC) this unarmed combat sport from our history has been revitalised – it has picked up some steam in recent years and never to such a higher peak of interest then this past weekend, where at BKFC 6 Artem Lobov defeated Paulie Malinaggi via unanimous decision.

The fight got so much attention in the build up mainly because of the beef between Paulie Malinaggi and Conor McGregor, which stemmed from a sparring session when Conor was preparing to fight Floyd Mayweather in boxing and Artem Lobov is a long time friend and sparring partner of Conor McGregor.

Conor released a clip of him dropping Malinaggi in this sparring session, its fair to say that Malinaggi did not respond well to this clip being released – his argument was that he slipped, he wasn’t dropped and that if the full footage was released it would show a close sparring session with Conor apparently.

Anyway this fight itself of Paulie Malinaggi vs Artem Lobov really was a story of Paulie using good footwork and boxing skills to evade much exchanging in the pocket and point fight. Meanwhile Lobov was coming forward most of the fight, landing bigger shots and doing more damage.

Honestly if it was a boxing bout I think Paulie would have just squeezed a decision, but in MMA this bare knuckle fighting match showed that Artem would likely win an MMA bout fairly easily and was rightfully given the nod to win a fairly close fight.

The whole fight felt a bit anticlimactic to me, but numbers don’t lie and in amongst a weekend with a UFC and Bellator event BKFC stole the combat sports world attention.

Here’s some highlights from the fight –

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How does BKFC work?

So at Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship firstly of course the fighters have no gloves of any kind, only wrist/thumb wraps are allowed. This fundamentally makes BKFC totally different from MMA and a million miles from Boxing because obviously no fighters in BKFC get any hand support from the strikes they throw, it’s all bone on bone so moving forward it is likely that more fighters will get hand injuries in BKFC then in MMA or Boxing.

Paulie did mention breaking his hand in the fight and Artem’s had really puffy sore hands after his last BKFC fight against Jason Knight which was a crazy fight.

No gloves makes the hands more cutting to the skin as well, so cuts are much more common in BKFC then MMA or Boxing for the most part – just look at Artems past two BKFC fights against Paulie Malinaggi and Jason Knight before – Artems face took more cuts and bruises then most of his MMA fights combined.

Also in BKFC the ring is of a boxing style with ropes, but it is a circle not a square, referred to as a “squared circle” so there is no rigid corners to the ring so to speak which can change how fighters have to fight.

In BKFC two lines in the middle of the Squared Circle is where fighters start the round and each round is two minutes in length and the amount of rounds are 5, 7 and 9 for championship fights.

When the Ref says Knuckle up that’s how every round starts, only punches allowed in a BKFC bout, clinch strikes are allowed, but just as in MMA and Boxing no biting, low blows or eye pokes are allowed.

Fighters can win by KO, Ref stoppage and decision – the fights themselves are scored and fighters are rewarded by the owners based on their aggression in the fight, willingness to come forward and exchange in the pocket. The owner David Feldman seems to be doing a great job so far, with reports showing that BKFC fighters are getting paid very well, arguably better then many MMA fighters.

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How do you feel?

Sometimes when I’m watching BKFC it feels like a blend of boxing and early day MMA, because the fights can be brutal and bloody due to no gloves, like early MMA. But the ring itself, the referees interaction, press conferences and the general presentation of BKFC has a Boxing vibe.

I think that no matter how you feel about BKFC it will be a success, the numbers of PPV buys and general attention this past weekend doesn’t lie.

But as far as the sport itself as an MMA purist I don’t like the limitation of skill sets to only be punches in BKFC, I get it but I just am so used to all the limbs being thrown and exchanging.

I also am not particularly fond of the focus on brawling, it’s entertaining but a stupid way to always fight like in real life. I also don’t like how more retired or losing MMA fighters are trying BKFC, I don’t like the idea of watching some of my heroes getting whooped in a brawl, so brain damage does worry me with old MMA fighters doing BKFC, please Chuck Liddell and fighters from that generation stay away from BKFC.

But I also like a lot of things about BKFC, I like the bare knuckles in BKFC as I do sometimes miss the bare knuckle days in MMA. BKFC is so raw lots of upside, sometimes it’s like going in some strange time machine to when bare knuckle fighting was common a few hundred years ago and even further back into the ancient world even.

I also like the short sharp rounds in BKFC and the scoring of aggression as it does push fighters to pull the trigger instead of being hesitant, although at the sametime the focus on aggression might give some a seedy overly bloodthirsty after taste too.

I also like that the owners of BKFC seem to understand very well how to sell a fight based on beef. Also as much as I whined about seeing MMA vets crossing into BKFC from a brain damage perspective, at the same time it is good to see a financial option for MMA fighters at the end of their career when in many cases before BKFC, financial options dry up when they cant fight competitively in MMA anymore.

Anyway that’s it from me about BKFC, now I want to know how you feel about BKFC? post it in the comments below and let’s get some discussion going about this long tested in history, but new revitalised avenue for combat sports athletes.

Hope you enjoyed this post today and as always like, share, subscribe and stay tuned for more from the world of MMA right here at the MMAGateway.

See you soon!

Marley Dawkins


  1. First, I can not stand a violent sport. Not to mention fighting with your bare knuckles. Call it weak, but it freaks me out like crazy. Apparently, some people enjoy these types of sports. However, it is quite interesting to know that this is getting more popular. Which probably means more endorsement opportunities for the players and more business for management teams and agencies. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Sam, I know what your saying and BKFC is more violent at face value then MMA or Boxing, but yes as the sport grows more sponsorship opportunities come up for fighters.

      Combat sports is not all violence though as the Octagon girls show and martial arts psychology shows.

      Thanks for your feedback!

  2. Hello Marley,

    As a fan of MMA since the early days when Don the Predator Frye was fighting in the UFC. I personally like bare knucle fighting i can understand many people would not. This of course is a personal choice for the fighter as they have trained hard and a fully aware of the rules and possible health risks involved. I was not aware of this style of fighting was available to watch. I will now keep a eye open for further events and have a closer look at your website as i have been a big fan of all types of combat sports from Boxing to Pride FC. Appreciate your efforts keep up the good work.

    Regards Shane.

    • Cool Shane! Don Frye is a legend, that around the time i started watching UFC 🙂 in those Shamrock, Gracie days lol.

      Nice to know you will stay tuned for more BKFC, also what do you think of the Fight Life documentary?

      Thanks for the support boss man!

  3. Hi Marley, interesting to know that bare knuckle fist fighting has reworked its way back into the big scenes but I’m a little bit worried concerning the injury rate associated with this fighting style. Considering the lack of protection on the path of the fighters, won’t that be too dangerous for their faces because of constant cuts received from punches. I get the fact it provides an avenue to cash in more funds but would it not be better to just allow a little head protection for the fighters. My thoughts though

    • Hey RoDarrick, I hear what you are saying, I think cuts and scar tissue could be an issue for fighters doing too much BKFC moving forward, but the sport is entertaining always has been throughout human history.

      Are you interested in MMA Journalism? You might want to learn who Ariel Helwani is in that case.

      Cool for stopping by bro!

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