Pay-per-view buys for a bare-knuckle showdown between Artem Lobov and Paulie Malignaggi are still coming in. But promoter David Feldman said the June 22 event is trending to be the most successful to date for Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships.
Feldman estimates BKFC 6, which took place in Tampa, Fla., will draw around 200,000 buys when the final numbers are tallied.
“We got our digital numbers right away,” Feldman told MMA Junkie. “In April, we did a certain amount, and in June, we did six times that digitally. It’s given us a gauge that we’re going to end up at the 200,000 line.”
BKFC 6 streamed live via internet pay-per-view provider FITE TV. At $39.99 a pop, a 200,000 buyrate would generate just shy of $8 million in revenue. Pay-per-view numbers are not public record.
If true, the event’s performance would trump several UFC fight cards this year, which reportedly struggled to crack the 200,000 mark. The promotion recently moved its main revenue driver behind a paywall with ESPN+.
In terms of buzz, the bare-knuckle promotion was a hit. Stateside, “Bare Knuckle boxing” reached No. 2 on Google Trends with over 200,000 searches. The event also drew strong interest in the U.K., Ireland and Australia.
Lobov’s upset unanimous decision over Malignaggi was a hot topic on social media, with many fans blasting the fight’s judging. Feldman said metrics showed boxing fans tuned in to see Malignaggi, giving the event an extra push in addition to coverage from the MMA media. All of the interest translated into a sporting event that helped BKFC turn a corner.
“It let people know we’re serious,” Feldman said.
Now, the promotion is planning a monthly event series kicking off with BKFC 7, which takes place Aug. 10 in Biloxi, Miss., and is headlined by UFC vets Jason Knight and Leonard Garcia. Feldman is eyeing Massachusetts, Alabama, Kansas and New Mexico to host events with state legislatures weighing measures to green light bare-knuckle combat.
“I want to be the first company in each state to do a show,” he said. “I don’t need to be the only person, but I need to be the first so I can set a precedent, and let the commission and fans to know what to expect.”
The promotion is also aggressively seeking out new talent for a roster Feldman said will ultimately number between 150-200 fighters.
“In boxing and MMA, there’s 1000s and 1000s of fighters,” he said. “This is an opportunity to stand out and be a pioneer in something.”
Although MMA fighters made out well at BKFC 6, edging boxing counterparts 3-0, Feldman said the event proved that bare-knuckle is an entirely new sport where neither discipline is favored.
“I think what it did is it showed this is truly a middle ground,” he said. “It’s not really boxing versus MMA. It’s a pretty good middle ground. Each and every one of these fighters have an equal chance of beating anybody. Most people didn’t think Artem had a chance at all.”
Many fight game observers said the same about bare-knuckle. But after this past month’s event, Feldman declares the sport is here to stay.
“A lot of the guys that said we’re a gimmick and won’t be around, well, one year later, we’re around and we’re more popular than ever, and we’re picking up steam,” he said.
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