Paige VanZant’s decision to make a switch to bare knuckle boxing after being released by the UFC always seemed like an odd choice, and it came back to haunt her last night as she decisively lost in her debut at BKFC: Knucklemania last night.
PVZ was going up against Britain Hart, a pro-boxer with a 4-4-3 record, and the former UFC fighter never really got going in the five-round fight aside from a late rally in the final two minutes, and as such would go on to lose by unanimous decision.
That’s not too surprising given that VanZant was never really known for her boxing during her time in the Octagon, with her best attributes being her toughness and scrappy ground game, while on the feet she had more success with kicks than anything else.
She had been hoping to follow in the footsteps of another former UFC fighter Bec Rawlings, who has enjoyed success in bareknuckle boxing, but instead she now faces an uphill battle to make her mark in BKFC, while in MMA she’s lost four of her last six fights.
On a more positive note, ex-UFC star Chris Leben also fought on the same BKFC card last night and the 40-year-old delivered a vintage KO finish against Quentin Henry just 67 seconds into the fight.
Leben had his opponent in trouble early after landing an uppercut from the clinch, which left Henry turning away while signalling that he’d been poked in the eye.
However, replays showed that he’d been caught by a clean punch and so the fight eventually continued with Henry trying to put pressure on Leben with a frenzied series of uppercuts of his own.
‘The Crippler’ kept his cool though and landed a big left that sent Henry crashing to the canvas for the KO finish.
Afterwards, Leben announced that he was retiring from combat sports, hanging up his gloves with a 3-1 bareknuckle boxing record to go alongside his 22-12 MMA record.