BKFC’s David Feldman talks getting Malignaggi-Lobov done, and his hopes for the company and sport.
Bare Knuckle FC returns on June 22, live on pay-per-view, with former boxing titleholder Paulie Malignaggi taking on former UFC fighter Artem Lobov in a bare knuckle grudge match from Florida.
BKFC’s David Feldman discusses getting Malignaggi on board, making the fight a reality, and his hopes for the sport.
On convincing Paulie Malignaggi to fight in BKFC
“I was doing a radio show with Paulie out in Vegas, and I volunteered to give him a ride back home. I thought this was my opportunity to get a big name over to bare knuckle, and he pitched me, he said, ‘I’d like to do commentary,’ and I said, ‘I’d like you to fight.’ He’s like, ‘I’m not doing that.’ Then we started talking numbers, one thing led to another, he knew I was for real, and here we are today.”
On whether he was surprised Malignaggi took it
“I’m a little surprised, but I’m not really surprised, because I think the ultimate goal for Paulie would probably be to hopefully lure Conor McGregor into a fight, and what better way than to go after his training partner and one of his really good friends?”
On other concerns Malignaggi may have had
“He was a little nervous — not nervous about fighting, he wanted to know what the style was, was it definitely just stand-up, was it really just boxing without gloves, and I said, ‘Yes, absolutely, there’s some little twists in there, but not much. There’s no elbows, kicks, knees, no grappling, nothing like that,’ and he said alright. Money talks anywhere and it talked to him and he listened.”
On Artem Lobov being the ideal Malignaggi opponent
“It made so much sense, that was the initial thought, to have Paulie fight Artem. Then Artem had that war with Jason Knight, and I’m standing in the middle of the ring and don’t know who won. Artem won, and this is happening. No matter what happens here, I’d love to do that Artem Lobov-Jason Knight rematch, because I thought that was a hell of a fight. Who knows what’s going to happen? We’re planning for the future, but we’re not saying this guy’s gonna fight that guy. We’re just saying we’re going to bring great, exciting fights to the fans, and that’s what we’re doing.”
On Lobov’s response to being asked to fight Paulie
“He was, like, ‘When?’ He had that epic battle with Jason Knight, and his face looked pretty bad. On the record, I brought Jason Knight and Artem both to the hospital, both cleared CAT scans, no concussive damage, no concussions, I wanted to make sure that was fine. I was walking with (Lobov) in the hotel, I put my arm around him, I said, ‘Look, let’s do this fight in August.’ And he was, like, ‘No! I’m fighting in June, I’m fine, I didn’t even get a headache.’ That’s the thing that people don’t know about bare knuckle. Yeah, he looked bad, but he said his brain wasn’t rattled, no concussions, no headaches. So I think because of that, I was confident that if his face looked good, if he could heal that way, he would be able to compete on this event.”
On Lobov’s skin holding up so quickly
“We’re all gonna see, right? He says it will. There’s some things that you can do to your skin to really tighten it up nowadays. I think he’s gonna be ready for it. Is he gonna cut? Almost definitely he’s gonna get cut up. But it’s a fight that has a great backstory, and I think the fans really, really want to see this. There’s so much buildup leading up to it. This is our first fight in our young company that we actually have buildup into a fight, people really have true animosity toward each other. It’s great for the company, we’re so happy to be able to promote this event.”
On what he wants to see in the fight
“I think Paulie’s gonna try to outbox him, and I think once he gets hit with a bare knuckle, he’s gonna understand that it’s not the same. Even once he lands with a bare knuckle, he’s gonna understand that it’s not the same. I think it’s gonna be a brawl. I really, truly do. Paulie was lured into brawls before, and I think it’s gonna be another brawl. But who knows what’s gonna happen? The odds have Artem as a favorite, and I was, like, ‘Really?’ That’s incredible to me. But it is what it is. It’s bare knuckle, it’s a middle ground, and it’s a great place to settle a score between this boxer and this MMA guy. Who can win, a boxer or an MMA guy on a true middle ground?”
On number of buys they’re expecting
“We definitely want this to do as good as possible. We’re pulling out all the stops. We’re doing some countdown videos, we’re doing a ton of marketing, a ton of advertising. Everything that is just organic with it as well, I think it’s gonna exceed our expectations. I’m not gonna throw a number out there, because if we don’t do it, it’s gonna make me disappointed and everybody else disappointed, but I think we’re gonna do better than we’ve ever done. I think this fight really, truly is gonna serve its purpose and put us on the map as a combat sport.”
On getting accepted by other commissions
“It’s coming along a lot faster than it was prior to June 2, 2018. But it’s definitely getting there. It’s not just what I tell them it’s going to be, it’s what I can show them that it is now. I can show them the injury reports, I can show them the medical history, I can show them everything now. Because I can show them that stuff now, I think it’s a lot easier for them to give us the nod.”
On Conor McGregor maybe showing up
“We definitely threw an invitation out through Artem. We’ll see what happens. If I was a betting guy, I would bet that Conor would probably be there to witness this fight. I think it’s gonna be a great fight and there’s a backstory with Conor in it. I think he’s gonna show up, but who knows? Conor McGregor is not a superstar, he’s a mega-star now. Who knows where he wants to be seen and what he wants to watch? But we’re not only giving him open arms, we’re asking him, Conor, come out and witness this fight in person, please.”