BKFC CEO On Early Success Of Bare Knuckle Fighting
On Saturday night, the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship returns to Pay-Per View as the upstart promotion crowns their first champion in Biloxi, Mississippi.
BKFC Founder and President, David Feldman talked with FIGHT SPORTS and broke down the process on how their third event is sowing signs of great things to come.
“It’s been a great process, we had an unbelievable reception on June 2nd,” Feldman said of their first event from Cheyenne, Wyoming, which was covered by Vice for a documentary released just recently.
“It hasn’t been that hard right now, after the two events, the hardest thing right now is figuring out the marketing approach, because this has never been done before. We know its combat sports fans, there’s also a lot of other fans that we’re reaching for as well.”
While it was a trek to get a State Athletic Commission to license a bare knuckle fighting event, Feldman confirmed that the BKFC’s 2019 schedule not only starts with their first international event in Mexico, but a total of three foreign countries will see an event next year with a very “aggressive” growth strategy planned.
With fighters like former UFC competitor Bec Rawlings, as well as former UFC and Bellator fighter Kendall Grove enlisted for the events, Feldman claimed many athletes were “receptive” to making the jump to bare knuckle fighting.
“Most of them are very receptive and reaching out to us,” Feldman claimed from his Philadelphia office prior to fight week. “If you take money out of the equation, because money comes up a lot with people who have names…. Other than that, its fighters saying they’re concerned about breaking their hands.” Which according to the BKFC founder had only 2 broken hands of the 24 fights in the history of the company and looks to clear that misconception up with potential fighters.
“They get it, a lot of the fighters who allow their minds to open up really understand, it is safer because they understand what’s going on now, and how we’ve been explaining it as far as you can’t take a continual pounding and you’re gonna get cut, and you can throw harder with a glove than you could with a bare fist.”
Sanctioning is what stood in the brand’s way of going on any Pay-Per-View or streaming provider, which forced Feldman to stump for the organization with different state commissions until Wyoming was the first to allow the brand a chance and show streaming and PPV providers that they were serious.
“I think because we delivered (on June 2nd)… that to comeback on August 25th and on October 20th wasn’t hard with those networks,” Feldman told FIGHT SPORTS, “It’s going to take three to four more shows down the road for (advertisers to) know it’s going to be consistent and nothing bad is gonna happen and that it’s just a combat sport that’s a little more fun, a little more exciting, and when that gets out a little bit more and a little more mainstream we will get more sponsors.”
It would take the BKFC 29 tries before they’d get a state to sanction them, and as soon as Feldman would sanctioning in Wyoming, other states would begin to pick up the phone.
“We were turned down by 28 states, and the 29th state, Wyoming, welcomed us with open arms, and John Lewis from Mississippi told me that he was watching under a microscope and if everything goes well, he’s gonna push to get it sanctioned, and he did. So, it was very, very difficult leading up to June 2nd, and it still is difficult, we’re still getting turned down by states, but people are picking up the phone, where before they wouldn’t even pick up the phone for us.”
Up to 12 states are on the table for Feldman and the BKFC, but the promoter is taking his time because he can only do “one event at a time,” and isn’t looking to have other promotions jump the line on him for states he opens up.
The biggest accomplishment for BKFC 3 on October 20th is the crowning of the promotion’s first champion, as Sam Shewmaker takes on Arnold Adams in the finals of the BKFC heavyweight tournament.
‘I think it makes everything feel very real,” Feldman said. “I’ve let these guys know that the future of this company depends on the outcome of this fight and how you guys fight, and we expect nothing less than fireworks, and your pay will honestly reflect that.”