BKFC KnuckleMania 2021: VanZant vs. Hart Live Stream, TV Schedule, Predictions

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistFebruary 5, 2021

FILE - In this Monday, April 13, 2015, file photo, mixed martial arts fighter Paige VanZant, right, spars with Sarah Jamila at Ultimate Fitness in Sacramento, Calif. VanZant would love to be the next Ronda Rousey in the cage and on the silver screen, but the up-and-coming strawweight UFC fighter realizes she must do plenty of work to catch up to the dominant bantamweight champion. She takes her next step Saturday, Sept. 5, at UFC 191 in Las Vegas against Alex Chambers. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Paige VanZant is set to make her bare-knuckle boxing debut at BKFC KnuckleMania when she squares off against Britain Hart in the main event Friday night at the RP Funding Center in Parkland, Florida. 

The bout marks VanZant's first venture outside of MMA and the UFC. The 26-year-old has been competing professionally in MMA since 2012 and in the UFC since 2014.

However, dissatisfaction with fighter pay in the UFC and a desire to showcase her striking skills drove her to bare-knuckle boxing. VanZant is easily the biggest name to make the transition to the bare-knuckle boxing promotion.

Several former UFC fighters have made the switch. Chris Leben and Johnny Bedford are both featured on the card after stints in the global MMA promotion. However, none of them signed a deal worth more than $1 million like PVZ. 

Here's a look at the whole card along with ordering information for the pay-per-view. 


When: Friday, February 5 at 9 p.m. ET

Live Stream: Bareknuckle.tv

Price: $29.99

Main Card (Fite TV PPV at 9 p.m. ET)

  • Paige Van Zant vs. Britain Hart
  • Johnny Bedford vs. Dat Nguyen - lightweight championship
  • Chris Leben vs. Quentin Henry
  • Dillon Cleckler vs. Chris Jensen
  • Lorenzo Hunt vs. Rob Morrow
  • Charisa Sigala vs. Taylor Starling
  • Martin Brown vs. Zach Zane
  • John Chalbeck vs. Greg Bono

Prelims (YouTube)

  • Dave Morgan vs. Travis Thompson
  • Jarod Grant vs. Brandon Lambert
  • Haim Gozali vs. John McAllister

In Hart, VanZant draws an opponent with some experience in the bare-knuckle arena. Hart is 4-4-3 as a boxer but is on a two-fight win streak including a fourth-round TKO of Randine Eckholm at BKFC 15 in November. 

Her other bare-knuckle appearances include a split-decision loss to former UFC fighter Bec Rawlings and a TKO loss to Christine Ferea. 

Hart is a decent boxer who will look to attack with her jab and build combinations off of it. However, it's hard not to see the disparity in athleticism between Hart and VanZant. 

Twelve Gauge may have left the UFC on a 1-3 stretch in her final four fights many of those struggles had to do with her grappling. Two of those three losses came by submission and she struggled to defend takedowns in her other loss. 

That's not something she's going to have to worry about in the circular ring of BKFC. The former Dancing With the Stars contestant is looking forward to just focusing on her striking. 

"If you look at my MMA career, my biggest downfall has been my jiu-jitsu and my striking has been my passion," she told Steven Marrocco and Damon Martin of MMA Fighting. "I'm so excited to show that off."

This organization has made a considerable investment in VanZant. It isn't likely she is going to get thrown to the wolves early. Expect her to put on a show as her speed and athleticism are on a different level. She won't be allowed to use the kick she utilized to knock out Rawlings in the UFC, but that's a good indicator of the skill difference we are looking at in this matchup. 

Expect VanZant to do well in her debut as the promotion hopes she brings a new audience to its product and sets up bigger fights down the line. 

Prediction: VanZant via second-round TKO


The co-main event figures to bring the action. Johnny Bedford is the reigning lightweight champion in BKFC. He made his first appearance with the promotion in the inaugural event and eventually won the lightweight tournament final against Reggie Barnett Jr. to take the belt. 

Bedford will face a challenge from an opponent with serious boxing credentials in Dat Nguyen. The 38-year-old boasts a 20-3 record in boxing and has already made in an impact in the bare-knuckle version of the sport. 

He is 2-0 under the BKFC banner with a knockout win over Abdiel Velazquez at BKFC 10 in his last appearance. 

While Bedford has demonstrated an aggressive style in his time with the promotion, Nguyen feels like he has the antidote:

"He's the type that likes to bully a lot of fighters, but you know I'm a brawler, too. So, I can box, but the way to beat this guy is—I can choose to do whatever I want, but I want to make the fight exciting, so I'm going to come forward, and he's going to have a real fight on his hands," he told Robert Collias of Maui News. 

Whoever wins, there will be fireworks aplenty as Nguyen's analysis of the fight is spot on. However, his extensive boxing experience could prove to be the difference. 

Prediction: Nguyen via third-round TKO