Paige VanZant and Britain Hart left last night’s BKFC KnuckleMania event at very different positions than they had entering their main event fight, and both are setting goals going forward.
Hart scored a minor upset over VanZant, the former UFC star who was making her bare knuckle boxing debut, and now says she’s going to heal up and target the featherweight championship.
“We did it!” Hart wrote on Instagram. “Digging deep to pull off a massive upset in the main event of the biggest card in (BKFC) history against a superstar like Paige VanZant was a dream come true. ... . This is just the beginning of new chapter in my career and life. As soon as I heal up, I’m coming for the BKFC title.”
BKFC currently have a vacant title situation at 125 pounds, with Bec Rawlings as “champion in recess” at the moment, having not fought since Feb. 2019. Rawlings and Hart met in Aug. 2018, with Rawlings winning a split decision over five rounds.
As for VanZant, the 26-year-old admitted she was dejected after the fight, and for at least a moment was going to quit fighting, but quickly changed her mind. She now plans to continue on with her bare knuckle career.
“The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear our defeat without losing heart. Last night I told my husband I didn’t want to fight anymore,” she said. “But as soon as the words left my lips, I knew that wasn’t true. I’m a fighter. This is what I live for.
“Losers quit when they fail, winners fail until they succeed. That fight last night was a good learning experience for me. The timing and distance took a little bit to figure out. But I felt my last round was my best round and I’m going to build off of that! I’m thankful to fight for the best team in the world and we are going to go back and fix our mistakes. Thank you to Britain for competing last night and congrats on victory! I’m also confident we will cross paths again.”
It’s not like there are a ton of 125-pound women’s fighters in bare knuckle boxing, so if they both keep going, yeah, it’s quite likely we see it again down the road. And VanZant is fully correct that the fifth and final round was her best in the fight; she had Hart hurt a bit in that round, and it was the only one of the five that PVZ won clearly. As we said earlier, there’s no reason to suspect VanZant can’t get better in this environment with further training and focus on these skills. She’s tough as hell, has some power, and didn’t look clueless last night or anything, just a bit out of her depth at times with a more experienced opponent.