Bare knuckle boxing has finally set up legitimate roots in the US and I predict it’s just a matter of time before its popularity surpasses that of MMA.
Bare Knuckle boxing is currently sanctioned in Wyoming and Mississippi. Other states are reportedly hesitant right now, which is reminiscent of when MMA was first introduced to the US. The UFC had a definite fight on their hands and it took a long time for states to jump on board but they were the first to break ground on something like this. I anticipate the acceptance of Bare Knuckle Boxing to happen much quicker because of the path laid by the UFC.
MMA has already accelerated Bare Knuckle Boxing’s growth because of how quickly it has attracted former UFC fighters like Chris Lytle, Kendall Grove, Phil Baroni, Bec Rawlings, Johny Hendricks, Melvin Guillard and Chris Leben. All of these fighters have spoken well of their experience in the new sport, which is sure to help attract more fighters in the near future. The bigger the names, the bigger the PPV numbers and as we all know…money talks. That’s all these other states are waiting on.
I’m sure, just like when MMA first came on the scene, conservative legislators will speak on how barbaric it is and that there are medical concerns but it’s already a forgone conclusion that cuts, blood and broken hands pale in comparison to traumatic brain injury issues that the NFL is negotiating. Yes, fighters do get knocked out but that’s way different. Fighters that suffer a knockout are sidelined, via medical suspension, for a minimum of 60 days. MMA has already successfully defended this and the removal of 4 ounce gloves isn’t significant enough of an argument to put Bare Knuckle Boxing in a separate category.
So, why do I think Bare Knuckle Boxing will surpass MMA’s popularity? For the casual observer, Bare Knuckle Boxing is a sport that eliminates everything that is boring about boxing and MMA. Grappling aficionados, like myself, enjoy when fighters get to showcase their wrestling and jiu-jitsu skills and end a fight with a submission on the ground. But let’s face it, the masses want blood. They want to see to fighters go to war and bang it out on their feet. I’ve seen three Bare Knuckle Boxing events so far and this is exactly what you get.
Regular boxing matches are too long. Fighters typically conserve energy for the first half of the fight and the gloves offer enough padding to make knockdowns and knockouts, the exception more than the rule. With no gloves, the opposite is true. A Bare Knuckle Boxing match is 5 two-minute rounds as opposed to most pro boxing matches, which are typically 10-12 three-minute rounds. This means Bare Knuckle fighters have to get after it, which means Bare Knuckle viewers get an exciting damn show.
The quickest way for a sport to grow is to be more appealing to more people than your competitor. I am a boxing fan and even more of an MMA fan, but Bare Knuckle boxing is way more exciting to watch. The organizations are paying high enough purses to attract top tier MMA and boxing talent and putting them in a faster-paced, more intense arena and the payoff is going to be very huge. Good for them and good for us.