The main event of Bare Knuckle FC 6 was by far the biggest fight the promotion has ever put on. It was a grudge match between former UFC fighter Artem Lobov and former boxing world champion Paulie Malignaggi. The beef between these two was real, and the hype for this fight had been building up for years, since Conor McGregor’s training camp for the Floyd Mayweather fight. Save for McGregor himself coming back to fight Malignaggi, this fight against Lobov was the biggest fight that BKFC could book.
The fight generated a lot of interest. For people who haven’t watched bare-knuckle fighting before, they were intrigued by the prospect of a former UFC fighter in Lobov fighting a world-class boxer in Malignaggi. When Malignaggi started talking smack about the MMA fanbase, it got those fans interested in the fight. Boxing fans were also interested because they wanted to see Lobov get outboxed by a far superior boxer in Malignaggi. And sports fans in general were intrigued by the prospect of a bare-knuckle fight. As far as BKFC goes, this was by far the biggest fights the promotion has ever booked.
But the fight didn’t turn out to be anything special. For five, two-minute rounds, Lobov followed Malignaggi around the Octagon with a smattering of strikes here and there, eventually taking home a unanimous decision win 48-47 on all three judges’ scorecards. It was cool to see Lobov arguably get the better striking exchanges against a fighter with a far superior boxing skillset, but it wasn’t an exciting fight. The fight was boring, and the fans in attendance booed and left the arena. The fans watching at home weren’t interested, either. It wasn’t a bad fight, but it wasn’t a good fight either. It was just a fight, one that was mostly forgettable. If this was your first time watching BKFC, you probably aren’t too interested in watching their next fight.
From what I saw on social media from MMA fans, they weren’t impressed with either the main event or most of the fights on the card. It was full of former UFC fighters such as Chris Leben, Joe Riggs, and Lobov, but for the most part the fights didn’t deliver. There were some cool knockouts on the undercard by fighters like Joey Beltran and Jim Alers, but overall the card didn’t live up to the promise. Out of the 10 fights on the card, only four ended by knockout. Fans were tuning in to see blood and people getting knocked unconscious. Instead, they were treated to something that’s not exactly boxing and something that’s not exactly MMA. Again, I wouldn’t say it was a bad card. But it wasn’t too good, either. For newbies to bare-knuckle fighting, I’m not convinced this card will make them want to watch the promotion’s next event.
BKFC made the biggest fight they could between Malignaggi and Lobov. It was a fight that got boxing fans interested and a fight that got MMA fans interested in their product, but it didn’t turn out to be anything special. If BKFC was hoping this would be the fight that catapulted its product into the mainstream, this certainly wasn’t the fight that would do so. All BKFC can do is the book the fights that the fans want to see, and Lobov vs. Malignaggi was the fight fans were interested in. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the type of fight that will keep fans interested in watching their product going forward. After its biggest fight ever was a bust, it remains to see if BKFC can be a viable promotion into the future.