Does bare-knuckle boxing have a chance to be successful beyond just fringe interest?
Cole Henry, Host – MMA Scope Podcast
I’ve learned to never say never, but with that being said I am not sure what calibre of fighter the sport can expect to attract, and I’m not sure if the brutality will be for everybody. Any good boxer will probably prefer actual boxing, while a wrestler or grappler will likely do MMA. So, it seems like bare-knuckle will essentially be the home for tough-man type competitors and failed boxers or MMA fighters. That doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t become a mainstream sport, but I’m just not sure what it offers besides violence and the occasional interesting match-up. I’ve still only watched one event though, and I’m still optimistic.
Frank Hyden, Columnist – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
It depends on your perspective. By most metrics, MMA is a fringe interest. It lags behind hockey and baseball (and golf when Tiger Woods was dominant) in terms of interest and I know plenty of people who consider those sports fringe. So, by those standards, bare-knuckle boxing has no chance to be anything other than on the far periphery for most people. Realistically speaking, I think it can fill a niche and become hot for a while but it won’t last. When the winner of a fight looks like he was attacked with an axe, that turns people off. A lot of sponsors and tv networks aren’t going to want to be associated with this. I say you ride it while it’s hot, enjoy it while it lasts, and when it inevitably folds, you move on to the next thing.
Sean Covington, Columnist – Covington’s Corner
No. It took this long for WWE and UFC to be on ESPN, bare-knuckle boxing doesn’t stand a chance. Combat sports are frowned upon and this would not only not sit well with people but also draw attention to why other combat sports are accepted, possibly prompting backlash for pro wrestling and MMA. Bare-knuckle boxing wouldn’t be able to get a decent tv deal or get on a decent streaming service, FITE is ok but it ain’t good enough.
Michael Hiscoe, MMATorch Managing Editor
I think there are too many barriers for a bare-knuckle boxing promotion to overcome to become mainstream and appeal to anything but the most hardcore or curious fight fans. The rules in last weekend’s BKFC 5 event did encourage action, which is nice, but the downside is guys get completely cut up and brutalized due to the lack of gloves. Artem Lobov and Jason Knight fought for 10-minutes and they look worse than most MMA fighters would after a 25-minute barnburner.
Much like professional wrestling, unless a promotion can get UFC level funding and TV partnerships, it’s impossible to compete in today’s combat sports landscape. BKFC was a fun distraction during an off-week for UFC, but it’s not even close to being a viable alternative that could compete with UFC or even Bellator for fan interest.