The Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship returned on Saturday night in Florida with BKFC 6, headlined by a grudge match featuring retired boxing welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi against former UFC fighter Artem Lobov.
The bad blood between the pair stemmed from the time Lobov’s friend and teammate Conor McGregor used Malignaggi as his sparring partner for his high-profile boxing fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Experts believed the outcome of Saturday night’s fight would be determined by whether Malignaggi could use his superior boxing skills or if Lobov could drag his more decorated opponent into deep waters and make it a dogfight. On the night, neither happened, as Lobov took a decision win after three rounds of very lackluster action.
In contrast, Lobov’s debut in the promotion against fellow UFC vet Jason Knight was one of the toughest and bloodiest battles in recent combat sports history. The Malignaggi-Lobov grudge match had been hyped to surpass that but instead fell far short. Knight, present at the event to promote his upcoming match with Leonard Garcia, offered a possible explanation.
Knight said after the fight that he believes the spectacle was a letdown because both opponents feared each other and didn’t want to be the first one to make a mistake (Transcript via MMA Fighting):
“I saw two fighters that were both kind of scared of each other. Paulie was just a little more scared than Artem was,” Knight said in the ring following the fight. “Paulie was scared to f---ing death. And Artem, he wanted to play it safe, I don’t blame him. The guy is supposed to be a way better boxer than you, you’re supposed to play it safe.
“All Artem had to do was take that fight away and he did.”
Knight then gave a blunt assessment of Malignaggi’s performance given how he hyped himself up before the fight:
“Paulie’s soft and we proved it tonight,” Knight said. “The only reason that you saw Artem fight so hard in that last fight is because Jason Knight was there. This fight wasn’t nearly as exciting as it was last time.”
Knight then turned the attention to his next BKFC fight against another former UFC fighter Leonard Garcia warning his opponent to be ready:
“But I promise you Aug. 10, Leonard Garcia is going to show up and he’s going to have to fight me.”
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