Paulie Malignaggi and Artem Lobov talked an immense amount of trash leading into their highly anticipated tilt in the main event of Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 6. It was a battle that started two years ago in the during the build toward the August 2017 fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Would they be able to deliver on their promises to hurt each other to no end?
The pre-fight hype was better than what people saw in the ring on Saturday night as Lobov and Malignaggi put on a lackluster performance that was devoid of any fireworks. But there had to be a winner, and it happened to be the former UFC veteran defeating the former two-division world champion by unanimous decision at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa, Fla.
“John Sullivan, 1882, the first Irishman to become bare knuckle champion, and that is what is best,” Lobov said in his post-fight interview. “Bare knuckle world champion, I’m bringing it back.”
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If Lobov is bringing it back then he has more work to do. For five, two-minute rounds, Lobov and Malignaggi had a glorified sparring session that occasionally saw a few hard punches get through to leave some cuts, some bleeding and a little bit of swelling to both men.
Malignaggi (0-1 BKFC) came out and used his footwork to get away from Lobov, who kept swinging and missing wildly at every turn. It appeared it would be this way the entire fight as Malignaggi cut Lobov open in the second round and appeared to be cruising to an easy win.
Lobov (2-0 BKFC) gained some momentum near the end of the third round when "The Russian Hammer" clipped and staggered Malignaggi with a left hand to the chin. The 32-year-old became the aggressor in the final two rounds working the clinch on the inside, and using his dirty boxing to get the nod in the eye of the judges.
The Showtime Boxing analyst made a lot of excuses after the fight ended. He said felt he won the fight, suffered a possible broken hand in the second round, was the better fighter throughout, didn't get hit hard even though he had three cuts including a deep gash on his left eyebrow and felt the odds were against him
“Maybe this wasn’t meant to be,” Malignaggi said in his post-fight interview. “A lot of people in boxing said ‘you shouldn’t do this, you’re a two-time world champion, this is beneath you.'"
This wasn't a matter of getting jobbed by the judges in Florida. This is a fight where Malignaggi should have won with the proverbial one hand tied behind his back due to his vast boxing experience and for everything he accomplished inside the squared circle. Instead, he looked slow, old and couldn't muster up any offense against a guy who at best is an intermediate striker and mediocre fighter.
During their media interactions in the lead-up to Saturday's supposed clash, both guys disparaged each other and promised to embarrass one another once the bell rang.
But putting those words to action proved to be too much of a task as the rivals were more content on dancing, throwing atrocious punches and proving once again that more often than not, the bark is bigger than the bite.
Here is what happened at BKFC 6.
(All times Eastern)
BKFC 6: Paulie Malignaggi vs. Artem Lobov: Live updates, results
Artem Lobov upsets Paulie Malignaggi
12:02 a.m.: Lobov def. Malignaggi by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47). A shocking result and not one many expected. With all due respect to Lobov, it's hard to believe a mediocre MMA fighter at best beat a former boxing world champion.
Round 5: Surprisingly, Lobov found a home early on in the round with the left hand. Malignaggi bounced back by finding a home for the jab but was content on avoiding punishment than engaging in a fight. (10-9, 48-47 Malignaggi)
Round 4: The best round of the fight for Lobov. He let his hands go and connected on a combination to send Malignaggi back. Lobov kept finding a home with the left hand to force Malignaggi to grab and clinch. Malignaggi has three cuts on his face and Lobov is still bloody as they walk back to their corners. (10-9, 39-37 Malignaggi)
Round 3: Malignaggi was outboxing Lobov until the final 30 seconds of the round when Lobov landed the hardest punch of the fight and sent Malignaggi back with a left hand. Not much to the round beyond that. Lobov is bloody while Malignaggi barely has a scratch. (10-9, 30-27 Malignaggi)
Round 2: Like the gameplan of Malignaggi. Pop the jab, throw a right hand when he sees an opening and make Lobov come to him. Lobov needs to ramp up the pace to make it a fight. (10-9, 20-18 Malignaggi)
Round 1: About what we expected in the opening round. Lobov swinging and missing big in looking for a knockout while Malignaggi is cool, calm and collected and picking his shots to connect. (10-9, Malignaggi)
11:41 p.m.: It is time for the main event of BKFC 6 as Paulie Malignaggi takes on Artem Lobov in super welterweight action. They have talked a ton of trash. Who will back up their words? We are about to find out.
Dakota Cochrane outslugs Chris Leben to take decision
11:35 p.m.: Cochrane def. Leben by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47). If you aren't thoroughly impressed by Cochrane, something is wrong with you. He outgunned the notorious gunslinger by landing one heavy shot after another to leave Leben battered and bruised when the final horn sounded.
11:30 p.m.: Leben looking the Leben of old. How could you not love it?
11:24 p.m.: Leben finally getting it together in the third round. “The Crippler” letting his hands go and blasting Cochrane with his razor-like left and right hands. He has Cochrane right where he wants him.
By the way, something is wrong with the ring. Anytime Leben and Cochrane have gone full speed, it creeks, and not in a good way. How this wasn’t secure beforehand is puzzling. Let’s hope nothing happens to it.
11:21 p.m.: Leben gushing blood at the top of his forehead in the middle of the second round. But Cochrane keeps finding a home for the uppercut as Leben continues to duck his head and leave himself wide open. Leben needs a new gameplan as a human can only take so many unnecessary blows like that to the head.
11:10 p.m.: It is time for the co-main event of BKFC 6 as Chris Leben battles Dakota Cochrane in cruiserweight action. Leben is known as the guy who isn't afraid to leave his blood and guts inside the ring for his wars inside the Octagon. That translated to the bare knuckle world when he knocked out Justin Baesman in 25 seconds in BKFC debut in April. Cochrane isn't afraid to let the hands go — he knocked out former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks in his bare knuckle debut in November.
Don't blink because it won't last long.
Johnny Bedford drops Reginald Barnett Jr. three times to win the lightweight title
11:07 p.m.: Bedford def. Barnett by unanimous decision (47-45, 47-45, 48-44) to win the BKFC lightweight title. Great performance by Bedford. Except for a shaky second round, Bedford dominated. His striking was more precise, his footwork was better and the big fight experience proved to be too much for Barnett.
11:00 p.m.: At the end of the third round, Bedford knocks down Barnett for the third time with a straight right hand. Barnett is battered and bloodied but still looking for a way to win.
10:51 p.m.: Bedford wasted no time. He came right out, ducked a left hand from Barnett and sent him down with a short right hook. Barnett got up but Bedford knocked Barnett down again but this time with a left hand.
Love the bravado from Bedford. After both knockdowns he raised his arms like Rocky Balboa. For his sake, he had better finish Barnett off.
10:43 p.m.: Coming up at BKFC 6, Reginald Barnett Jr. meets Johnny Bedford in the lightweight final to crown the first champion. Barnett and Bedford have won two fights to advance to the final. Who is going to get it done?
10:39 p.m.: Lane def. Shoaff by unanimous decision (49-45, 49-45, 49-45). All around solid performance for Lane. He showed quick hands and applied constant pressure throughout. Give Shoaff credit. He could have folded his tent but came out in the fifth and final round and put it all on the line. Shoaff stood in the pocket and threw with every fiber of his being.
10:30 p.m.: This fight is pure insanity, and I love it. Lane and Shoaff are playing some rock-and-sock-em robots, and I keep wanting more.
10:23 p.m.: Lane came out on fire to begin the fight, rushing at Shoaff and blasting him with a hard right hand. Schwartz came back, but Lane unloaded a series of wild left and right hands to send Schwartz to a knee. Lane needs to not expend so much energy and relax and get into a rhythm.
10:20 p.m.: Coming up at BKFC 6, Julian Lane squares off with Tom Shoaff in middleweight action. Lane is known for his toxic personality on The Ultimate Fighter season 16. He lost his BKFC debut to Leonard Garcia at BKFC 4.
Joey Beltran makes it look easy in stopping Jamie Campbell
10:10 p.m.: Beltran def. Campbell by TKO at 1:50 of the second round. Beltran had an easy night at the office.
About 30 seconds into the second round, Beltran connected on straight right hand sends Campbell to the mat. Campbell got up but didn't last too much longer. Beltran began stuffing the jab into Campbell's face as he looked to set up the finishing blow. It got to the point that Campbell turned his back to Beltran, who made him paid for it. Beltran went over to the side and landed a series of short uppercuts to send a bloody Campbell to the canvas. Campbell was shaky getting up, and the referee stopped it.
Good performance for Beltran. You can tell he really is taking bare-knuckle fighting seriously. He's in the best shape he's ever been, trains now exclusively at a boxing gym and the hard work is paying off.
10:04 p.m.: Interesting that Lobov's hands are getting examined again. There has to be something to this because why are they doing it again?
10:00 p.m.: Right now at BKFC 6, Joey Beltran battles Jamie Campbell. Beltran, who is also a UFC and Bellator veteran, is 1-1-1 in three bouts under the BKFC. Anything with Beltran is going to be exciting.
9:56 p.m.: A bit of controversy surrounding the main event as the Malignaggi camp was saying Lobov had too much gauze wrapped around his knuckles. The Florida commission deemed it legal and Lobov is good to go. Sounds like Malignaggi is trying to play mind games with Lobov.
Joe Riggs and Walter Barros fight to a draw
9:51 p.m.: Riggs and Barros go to a draw (47-47, 47-47, 47-47). Hard to see how it came to a draw as Barros notched the only knockdown of the fight in the second round and also controlled the third round. By that math, he should be the winner. Hopefully, this isn't a sign of things to come.
9:42 p.m.: With about 30 seconds left in the second round, Barros lulled Riggs to sleep as he had his hands down and dropped him with a straight right hand. Riggs was shaky getting up, so Barros landed a four-punch combination at the end of the bell. Riggs has a cut over his eye and is in trouble.
9:39 p.m.: Our third fight in and we finally get one that goes into the second round.
9:35 p.m.: Right now at BKFC 6, Joe Riggs takes on Walter Barros. Riggs, a 68-fight veteran who competed in virtually every MMA promotion including the UFC and Bellator, is 2-0 under the BKFC banner. Barros is making his BKFC debut.
Jim Alers scores vicious KO over Elvin Leon Brito
9:30 p.m.: Alers def. Brito by knockout at 0:45 of the first round. Alers and Brito came out throwing everything including the kitchen sink. They settled into working in close quarters. Brito was working the body when the UFC veteran blasted Brito with a short uppercut to faceplant Brito to the canvas.
A fantastic BKFC debut for Alers. Couldn't ask for a better performance.
9:23 p.m.: Up next at BKFC 6 is Jim Alers facing Elvin Leon Brito in middleweight action.
David Mundell makes quick work of Drew Lipton
9:20 p.m.: Mundell def. Lipton by knockout at 1:35 of the first round. Mundell overwhelmed Lipton from the outset by being more technical and having the heavier hands. Mundell had Lipton against the ropes when he landed a body shot and then an uppercut to drop him to the mat for the first time.
Sensing he had Lipton in trouble, Mundell threw a straight right hand that connected squarely on the temple to send Lipton packing.
9:10 p.m.: Kicking off the BKFC 6 main card is Drew Lipton taking on David Mundell in light heavyweight action.
9:05 p.m.: Welcome to live coverage of Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships 6. Grab the refreshments, go to the bathroom and enjoy what is expected to be a bloody night of action.
BKFC 6 fight card
- Paulie Malignaggi vs. Artem Lobov
- Chris Leben vs. Dakota Cochrane
- Reginald Barnett Jr vs. Johnny Bedford
- Joe Riggs vs. Walber Barros
- Joey Beltran vs. Jamie Campbell
- Tom Shoaff vs. Julian Lane
- Abdiel Velazquez vs. Travis Thompson
- Elvin Leon Brito vs. Jim Alers