Bec Rawlings - The Girl That Writes History
In 2018 combat sports fans finally witnessed the first legally sanctioned bare knuckle fighting competition.
What many had to go deep underground to watch for generations, was finally open to the public and widely available on FITE pay per view.
An athletic endeavor like no other, a true warrior's proving ground, that is bare knuckle fighting!
The first legal bare knuckle fighting for over a century made its debut in Wyoming with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship's inaugural event "The Beginning".
"The Beginning" marked a huge milestone for the sport bringing on mainstream athletes into the spotlight including former UFC fighters and former professional boxers exchanging heavy pounds in front of a rowdy crowd and many more watching online.
What everyone witnessed were all-out wars that will be looked upon as classics years from now (Joey Beltran vs. Tony Lopez comes to mind) but it is one fighter that stood up to become the face of bare knuckle fighting.
The Bare Knuckle Queen, "Rowdy" Bec Rawlings
It was Bec Rawlings' match with Alma Garcia that kept me on the edge of my seat and left me wanting to see more.
The warrior spirit was so strong in both women, the will to win and not to give up was immense. As Bec Rawlings stood in the ring with her hand raised at the end of the night, I felt like I was witnessing history in the making.
There was something magical about that moment a glory - a female athlete, standing tall at the end of a tough fight in arguably the most brutal and unforgiving combat sport currently out there.
To understand why this victory had such an impact on me, we need to dive back in time and follow Bare Knuckle fighting back to early days and all through the glorious days of London's infamous prize fighting scene.
Bare knuckle fighting has historically been considered one of the toughest competitions out there captivating the imagination of fans all the way up to where we are today.
When the Marquess of Queensberry rules were set in the world of fighting, two great divides were forged. One became what we know today as professional boxing proudy featuring the gloves, the athleticism, the spirit of competition. The other went underground to create the tough world of bare knuckle boxing - an illegal sport that only the hardest, toughest, most vicious warriors can survive.
While boxing turned into a mainstream popularity with athletes like Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and all-time greatest Muhammad Ali, bare knuckle boxing creepily kept on creating an underground following of its own.
As it's footprint increased, people like Lew Yates, Roy "Pretty Boy" Shaw and now infamous Lenny McLean became local heroes whom fans were looking up to. A subculture of its own rules and fetishes, Bare knuckle competition was believed by its own followers to be the true form of fighting with BK champions able to easily work on their boxing counterparts.
Years have come and gone by before the world came to witness another global phenomenon - MMA and the UFC coming to the stage of combat sports. With Ultimate Fighting Championship coming up from a no-holds-barred competition to become one of the best regulated and most respected organizations around the world, bare knuckle fans had started to ask themselves - when will their time come?
With anticipation building strong, when the news finally broke in 2018 that what had been forbidden for a century is not any more, fans went raucous with exhilaration.
When the bell hit and Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship kicked off, fans were in for a bloody show that did not let them down. I was already thinking to myself … how can things get any better from what they are now? How can this event top itself? And then the only women's match on the card hit it.
What was about to happen in the ring is to be talked about for years to come.
Two girls fought one of the toughest fights on the card and stole the hearts of the fans in what is historically considered a very male dominated sport.
The fans saw not two tough brick-built guys throwing haymakers … they saw two female warriors, each having a will of iron, each following the warrior's code, each having the resolve to do what needed to be done.
In true form, this is what bare knuckle fighting is all about - resolve, willpower, toughness in both body and spirit.
That's what Bec Rawlings and Alma Garcia embodied that night.
Bec got her hand raised high in the air in the second round. And that image became engrained in the memories of people. A woman going at it in a sport where blood is the norm - coming out on top in a true showing of skill and still showing her smile and happiness to the people is emblematic of a true Bare Knuckle warrior.
Rawlings has always been a very interesting competitor. The first time I saw her in action was her match with Carla Esparza at Invicta. Every match of hers I've watched through her UFC career was a showcase of toughness and pure will power.
A true warrior, she would go out to do battle, to clash and to push herself to the limit. So it's no wonder that bare knuckle fighting became such a great fit for her.
When Bec Rawlings decided to put herself on display at BKFC: The Beginning, she did everyone a huge favor because she showed the world that this sport is not about two guys in their 40s, fighting in a storage.
Bare Knuckle is a brutal, unforgiving, yet athletic and beautiful competition of both power and will.
Bec Rawlings' never-give-up attitude helped paint a picture of bare knuckle fighting that would open the eyes of many non-believers of the sport.
After her great performance, she become the face of the sport and is about to knuckle up again in next BKFC2: New Era August 25 available on FITE PPV.
The world has evolved and so have combat sports. A sport emerging into the spotlight from the shadows of its now outlived raw existence and spear-headed by a woman is a very interesting perspective.
On August 25th, right here on FITE, Bec Rawlings will be taking on professional boxer Britain Hart in an effort to further her legacy as the woman to bring bare knuckle fighting into a mainstream sport.
While BKFC's rules are no boxing rules, they're still more similar to boxing compared to MMA giving Hart some advantage.
And we've seen how devastating pure boxing can be in bare knuckle fights, perfect display of that being Bobby Gunn's fast and furious bodyshot KO during the last event. Though granted, experience wise Hart is no Bobby Gunn.
On the other side, Bec Rawlings is as tough as it gets and is way more fit for a bloody bare knuckle battle. Having a wealth of experience in MMA and already having a head start in bare knuckle competitions, I do feel like Rawlings is a favorite to win this matchup.
Win or lose, Bec Rawlings will always deliver.
Bec is already on her way to start building a legacy in the sport. A woman pioneering into what's known to be a man-dominant sport will effectively becoming the face of it.
I wish Bec nothing but the best in the days to come and in her future career as it's people like her that push the sports we love to evolve. It's warriors like her that turn people into fans. It's pioneers like her that show young girls that they have a firm place in the world of combat sports - giving them a hero to aspire to.
Tune in on August 25th to see how this saga continues with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship: A New Era.
FITE "Fighter in Focus" series is brought to you by Ivan Spassov, FITE Editor-in-Chief. Opinion my own.