The sport of bare knuckle boxing has been rapidly growing across the globe. In a similar fashion, participation from MMA athletes in the sport of boxing has also been on the rise. Here are five MMA fighters who could find success in bare knuckle boxing.
Vitor Belfort looked sharp at the age of 44 in his exhibition bout last week against boxing legend Evander Holyfield. In less than a round, Belfort stopped the 58-year-old Holyfield with heavy, continuous blows—something Vitor was known for during his time with the UFC. If Belfort still needs to ‘scratch that itch’, “The Phenom” could try his hand in bare knuckle boxing. Under Dave Feldman’s BKFC, Belfort would find himself competing against the likes of Joey Beltran, Sam Shewmaker, and Joe Riggs in the heavyweight division.
Mark Hunt has squared off with some of the most elite heavyweight competitors of all time. That being said, he has not always had his hands raised in victory. In his victories, Hunt has earned spectacular knockouts over the likes of Frank Mir and Roy Nelson. Hunt even holds a win over MMA legend Mirko Cro Cop.
Before mixed martial arts competition, the “Super Samoan” first tested the waters of professional competition in the sport of kickboxing where he found substantial success. Hunt’s most recent effort found him competing in a professional boxing match in a losing effort. Known for his incredible knockout power, Hunt would fit in just right into the sport of bare knuckle boxing.
Bellator MMA’s current women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg is one of the most iconic strikers in MMA history. Having amassed 19 knockout victories in her career, Cyborg has topped the likes of Holly Holm, Yana Kunitskaya, and Julia Budd. In a transition to bare knuckle boxing, Cyborg’s grit, fight IQ, and striking prowess would certainly lead her on another path to gold.
They do not call you “The Axe Murderer” for nothing. Wanderlei Silva was a killer in his glory days of PRIDE competition. Earning 15 knockouts during his PRIDE tenure, Silva won the PRIDE middleweight title by defeating Kazushi Sakuraba at Pride 17. In the UFC, Silva would finish Keith Jardine, Cung Le, and Brian Stann to add to that list. At the age of 45, perhaps Silva is no longer interested in professional competition; however, one can only imagine what he could do in bare knuckle.
BJ Penn’s fall from grace was rather…steep. A winner of both the UFC lightweight and welterweight titles, BJ Penn was once considered the best boxer in MMA’s premier organization. Having defeated the likes of Matt Hughes (twice), Matt Serra, and Kenny Florian, BJ Penn in his prime was an incredibly tough opponent for anyone. Unfortunately, Penn would suffer a seven-fight losing streak spanning seven years and three weight divisions. His last loss would come at UFC 237 against Clay Guida.
If this was not bad enough, Penn would suffer several, significant legal troubles after his UFC career. Most recently, Penn was arrested for DUI in Honoka’a, Hawaii. Perhaps in heroic, cinematic fashion, “The Prodigy” will return to glory via bare knuckle boxing, showing once again that his striking is legendary. How likely is this return for redemption? Chances are slim to none.
Who would you want to see make the jump to bare-knuckle boxing? Let us know down below!
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