Paige VanZant has no shortage of doubters when it comes to her decision to accept a fight contract with Bare Knuckle FC, the promotion largely behind the resurgence of bare knuckle boxing in the US. And you can count her former UFC opponent and 3-0 BKFC fighter Bec Rawlings as one of them.
Rawlings and VanZant fought under the UFC banner back in 2016 in a fight that saw Paige earn a highligh reel switch kick knockout over Bec. It’s a defeat that still clearly bothers Rawlings, who “wasn’t in a great space career wise, really mentally and physically” at the time. Unfortunately, her Bare Knuckle FC days are over after she signed with Bellator in 2019.
“I would love that fight,” Rawlings told MMA Fighting. “I’m sure we could probably try to work something out with Bellator and Bare Knuckle, doing a cross promotion thing. I don’t know, I’d be down for that. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
But it would have to happen sooner rather than later, as Rawlings doesn’t expect VanZant to last long in BKFC.
“She hasn’t been the greatest with not taking damage. She’s known for being tough and that’s cause she takes a beating. I just don’t think she’s thought it through. I think after her first fight, whoever that is, I think she’ll probably realize that bare-knuckle boxing isn’t the sport for her.”
If her first experience with bare knuckle boxing doesn’t tear her face in half and send her packing, we think Rawlings will start a campaign in earnest to get her hands on VanZant.
“I would love to avenge that loss,” Rawlings said. “That loss still sits in the deep pit of my stomach and I’ve never let that go. I think that she has no hope in bare-knuckle boxing against me. I really don’t think she’s going to do well against any of the girls but especially with the girls I faced. I just don’t see her as a boxer. She’s never been a great boxer. She’s been a great grappler. A very good kicker. But boxing is a different game.”
“I definitely feel like she wouldn’t get out of the first round with me,” Rawlings finished. “I’m very confident in that fight and I’d love to avenge my losses as best I could. Obviously it’s not MMA, it’s not avenging it completely but I would definitely love to fight her again.”
VanZant is set to make her Bare Knuckle FC debut on February 5th, Super Bowl weekend. No opponent has been named.