A History of The Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC)

The Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship is a relatively new organization that is looking to make a big impact in the world of professional fighting. With no gloves and nothing but bare fists, this organization has garnered a lot of attention in a short amount of time. In this blog post, we will discuss everything there is to know about the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship! We will cover the history of the organization, the fighters who have competed in it, and what to expect in the future!

The Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship was founded in 2018 by David Feldman. Feldman is a former boxing promoter and a former American professional boxer who saw the potential for a new kind of fighting organization. The Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship held its first event in June of 2018 and has been growing in popularity ever since.

The Rules of Bare Knuckle Fighting

As you might have guessed, the fighters do not wear protective gloves on their hands, which can lead to many more hand-related injuries. As per the official site of BKFC, fighters are permitted to wrap and tape the wrist, thumb, and mid-hand. No gauze or tape can be within 1 inch of the knuckles. Fighters must also have a groin protector, cup, mouthpiece, boxing trunks, and boxing/wrestling shoes. The fights are fought in a specialized circular four-rope ring called the “Squared Circle.

Fights are 2 minutes per round, and each bout will be five rounds in length. The fighters are also prohibited from throwing kicks, knees, or elbows; they are also prohibited from striking a grounded opponent. BKFC is basically boxing without the gloves.

Official BKFC Weight Classes / Divisions

The BKFC weight classes are as follows:

DivisionUpper weight limitGender
Cruiserweight205 lb (93 kg)Male
Light heavyweight185 lb (84 kg)Male
Middleweight175 lb (79 kg)Male
Welterweight165 lb (75 kg)Male
Lightweight155 lb (70 kg)Male
Featherweight145 lb (66 kg)Male
Bantamweight135 lb (61 kg)Male
Flyweight125 lb (57 kg)Male / Female
Strawweight115 lb (52 kg)Female

The First BKFC Event

The first Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship event was held in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The first BKFC was the first state-sanctioned bare-knuckle boxing event in the United States since 1889; it was also the first American-sanctioned women’s bare-knuckle fight in modern history. The event featured the quarter-final of an 8-Man Heavyweight Tournament.

Watch the Full 3 Hour BKFC 1 Event

Notable BKFC Fighters

Since its inception, the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship has attracted some big names in the world of fighting. Some of the most notable fighters to compete in BKFC include Joey Beltran, Paulie Malignaggi, Chris Leben, Bec Rawlings, and Shannon Ritch.

Anthony Johnson, the former UFC light heavyweight title contender, announced at the beginning of 2019 that he would be joining the company in an administrative role.

The BKFC already crowned a double champion; Luis Palomino, already a BKFC Lightweight Champion, won the Welterweight Championship on June 24, 2022, thus becoming the first double champion in BKFC History.

Notable BKFC Fights Featuring Former UFC Fighters

BKFC has seen some thrilling battles featuring ex-UFC fighters. Some of the most noteworthy include:

  1. BKFC 41: This event showcased four former UFC fighters, among them Luke Rockhold and Eddie Alvarez.
  2. BKFC KnuckleMania 3: Ex-NFL and UFC heavyweight Greg Hardy competed and was knocked out in this event.
  3. BKFC 6: The main event saw a face-off between former UFC fighters Wanderlei Silva and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
  4. BKFC 5: The main event featured a bout between ex-UFC middleweight Chris Leben and Justin Baesman.
  5. BKFC 19: The main event highlighted a fight between former UFC women’s flyweight competitors Rachael Ostovich and Paige VanZant.

While BKFC is relatively new, having hosted its first event in 2018, it’s steadily gaining popularity. As it continues to grow, more former UFC fighters are expected to transition to BKFC, leading to more high-profile fights.

Main Selling Point of BKFC

The main selling point of the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship is that no gloves or any other kind of padding are used. This means that fighters are able to land punches with maybe less force but way more damage than they would be able to with traditional boxing gloves.

In addition, bare-knuckle fighting eliminates many of the clinching and grappling techniques often used in mixed martial arts. This makes for a very different style of fighting, and it has been very popular with fans.

How Does BKFC Compare to Other Sports in Terms of Safety?

The Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC), steeped in tradition and authenticity, is making waves in the world of combat sports not only for its unique format but also for its commitment to fighter safety. Unlike several other fighting organizations, BKFC has devised a specific rule set that prioritizes the well-being of its athletes, a focus that’s becoming increasingly apparent in light of recent research.

Contrary to popular belief, BKFC fights may carry a lower risk of concussion-like symptoms than traditional boxing and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). A study conducted recently revealed that only 1.5 percent of bare-knuckle fighters showed such symptoms when assessed by a ringside physician. This is a remarkable finding considering the often brutal perception of bare-knuckle boxing.

BKFC President David Feldman is an active advocate for the sport’s safety record. Reacting to the aforementioned study, Feldman insists that bare-knuckle fights are indeed safer when considering the risk of concussions and head trauma. He holds steadfast that the collected data substantially supports this claim, upending assumptions and shining a new light on the safety standards of BKFC compared to other combat sports.

This commitment to safety, coupled with its bare-knuckle authenticity, sets BKFC apart. As it continues to evolve, the promotion stands to offer a new perspective on balancing the intense, thrilling nature of combat sports with an unwavering focus on fighter safety.

The Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame

The Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame is an organization that honors and celebrates the sport of bare-knuckle boxing. The Hall of Fame was founded in 2009 by American historian and author Scott Burt. It is located in barns in Belfast, New York, that were once owned by the Greco-Roman wrestling champion and physical culture pioneer William Muldoon.

In 1889, the heavyweight boxing champion John L. Sullivan fought in bare-knuckled fights and trained in these barns under Muldoon’s instruction for his title fight against Jake Kilrain. The National Police Gazette, a popular newspaper of the day, dubbed the barns “The Mecca of Pugilism” and “Muldoon’s Titan Gymnasium.”

The Police Gazette was the first organized boxing-sanctioning body in the US, declaring its intention in 1881 and issuing championships beginning in 1882. The Police Gazette Boxing Corporation, a joint venture between National Police Gazette Enterprises, LLC and the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame in Belfast, NY, was formed to continue the police gazette’s previous bare-knuckle boxing licensing operations.

The Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame is dedicated to preserving the history and legacy of bare-knuckle boxing and honoring the men and women who have made significant contributions to the sport. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is held annually, and inductees are chosen based on their contributions to the sport, accomplishments inside and outside the ring, and character.

The Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame is committed to promoting bare-knuckle boxing as a legitimate sport and works to educate the public about the history, traditions, and benefits of the sport. The Hall of Fame also provides support and resources for current and former bare-knuckle boxers and works to grow the sport through events and programs.

Check out some of the all-time highlights of BKFC here:

How Much Do BKFC Fighters Get Paid?

Our recent examination of Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) fighter salaries offers interesting insights into the organization’s financial structure. The basic pay for a typical BKFC match ranges from $10,000 to $500,000, with the organization’s biggest stars able to command salaries in the millions.

This lucrative pay scale has positioned BKFC as a potentially attractive option for lesser-known Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighters, as high-profile matches can offer six-figure payouts.

At the top of BKFC’s salary pyramid sit fighters such as Arnold Adams and Paige Vanzant, both earning over $250,000 per fight, thanks to their substantial contracts with the promotion. Furthermore, the highest-earning fighter in a pay-per-view event can walk away with up to $250,000.

However, it’s worth mentioning that the compensation structure varies across the board. New entrants to BKFC can expect a maximum purse of $2,000, subject to a potential increase dependent on a win bonus equivalent to their initial guaranteed purse.

Notably, the payouts for BKFC 28 consisted of flat purses without any win bonuses. John Dodson, a former UFC title challenger, made his BKFC debut in the co-main event, pocketing the event’s highest disclosed payout of $75,000.

Despite the impressive figures, it’s important to clarify that these earnings do not take into account any additional bonuses the promotion might issue. The total earnings of BKFC fighters may well be higher than disclosed once these bonuses are factored in.

The Future Of BKFC

So far, the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship has only held a handful of events. However, it has already featured some of the top strikers in the world.

The Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship has plans to continue growing in the coming years. The organization has already announced plans to hold events in different countries and is looking to sign more top fighters. The organization initially broadcasted its bouts worldwide via FITE TV; however, in 2020, it was announced that DAZN would be the one streaming BKFC events starting in August.

BKFC recently signed the Muay Thai legend Buakaw Banchamek who is set to fight against David Leduc, the lethwei (Burmese boxing) legend who is already accustomed to fighting with no protection on his fists. This is going to be a historic fight as it will be the first time that Buakaw fights without gloves in his professional career.

There is no doubt that the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship is here to stay, and it is sure to be one of the most exciting organizations in professional fighting.


What was the longest bare-knuckle fight in history?

The longest bare-knuckle fight record is debated. Many sources claim it was a 6-hour, 15-minute bout between James Kelly and Jonathan Smith in Victoria, Australia, in 1855. Some argue for a 185-minute fight in Montana, USA, in 1865, or a 7-hour, 19-minute match in New Orleans in 1893.

How are BKFC fighters ranked and by whom?

BKFC fighter rankings are determined by a panel comprising media personnel from various combat sports publications. These rankings are generated through votes for top fighters by weight class and overall, regardless of weight. To be ranked, fighters must be active and can be recognized in multiple weight classes. Champions in each weight class are automatically ranked at the top, and fighters inactive for 12 months are dropped. Initiated after BKFC Fight Night New York 2, the rankings are managed by Combat Registry and updated monthly.


BKFC is definitely something different in the world of martial arts and fighting. It will be interesting to see how it grows in the coming years. BKFC is currently the only professional bare-knuckle fighting promotion in the world. If BKFC continues to sign high-profile fighters and martial arts veterans, their future should be bright.

So, what do you think? Are you excited about the future of the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship? Let us know in the comments below!

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