Every professional sports organization, no matter the sport always has an athlete or athletes that are considered the “face” of the organization, team, or league. LeBron James, Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, Wayne Gretzky, Derek Jeter are all prime examples of this in their respective sports. Athletes that have that something special that garners interest from the fans, and the ability to always deliver on game day!
Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship has burst on the scene of the combat sports world and in it’s short tenure has acquired some big-name former UFC athletes, and world champion boxers. Jason Knight and Artem Lobov both formerly of the UFC had the best fight in promotion history and helped catapult the organization into the limelight, but neither has cemented themselves as the face of the company. They have fought twice and each has a win over the other.
It seemed as if the promotion was trying to place the face moniker on Lobov when after defeating Knight they booked him against former boxing world champion Paulie Malignaggi. Lobov went on to win that fight and was on his way until he ran into Knight again and suffered a loss, and while he may be one of the more popular fighters on the roster, his 2-1 record in most opinions takes him out of the race to be the face that runs the place.
Knight avenged the loss to Lobov, but at 1-1 he also can’t be the face today.
While all the above was going on there have been 2 fighters that have been doing work inside the BKFC ring and between them, they have 9 wins 0 losses and 2 title belts, and both want to be and feel they already are the face of bare-knuckle and if you ask them neither have any shame about letting you know.
Johnny Bedford: 5-0 with BKFC and the reigning BKFC and Police Gazette 135lb Champion. 2 belts, 3 KO/TKO’s 2 unanimous decisions. Bedford has been with the company since the first show where he told BKFC President David Feldman “I will be the face of this company”, and while he has done exactly what he said he would by beating everyone placed in front of him, he has toed the line as he was asked to do, but somehow even with 5 wins and gold around his waist has gotten lost in the shuffle as the acquisition of talent, many with bigger names than Bedford has been the focus of the company. Bigger names = bigger box office!
Jim Alers: 4-0 with BKFC 3 KO’s 1 unanimous decision. Alers was part of the talent acquisition and has not disappointed. The former UFC star made his debut at BKFC 6 with a brutal 1st round KO of Elvin Brito, his first KO win in 10 years and it lit a fire inside of him. With this newfound confidence, nobody has been able to really stop the self-proclaimed “Bare-Knuckle Beast”! 3 glorious knockouts have elevated Alers into the stratosphere as he has been labeled by many as the most exciting athlete in the organization where he took home the title of BKFC Fighter Of The Year for 2019.
I spoke with Bedford awhile back and he was disgruntled to some degree. He wants the smoke, he wants all of it. His tenure and record back up his words, yet he hasn’t been given the promotional push that he honestly deserves and not sure as to why that is, but it is where we are.
Alers is wondering where his bonus money is for winning Fighter of the Year for 2019, and wondering why he has to participate in the lightweight tournament where a 155lb champion will be crowned. He has fought and beaten every opponent decisively and in his mind, he is the champion. I spoke with him last night at The Florida MMA Awards and he feels like he is already the face and has surpassed anything that anyone in the company has done including Bedford. Also of note, Alers isn’t listed on the BKFC website in the fighters directory which is a bit baffling.
The easy way to settle the debate is inside the ring of course. However, they are separated by two weight classes as Bedford rules at 135 and Alers owns 155. Bedford has stated that he would move up and fight anyone in any division. Alers told me last night that he is done with the “boys” divisions at 135 and 145 and he will continue to fight in the “men’s” division at 155 where the action is at.
2 fighters with legitimate claims to the moniker of “The Face of BKFC”, and neither may end up there no matter what they do as the promotion continues to sign bigger names and if a bigger name puts together a winning streak the promotion may push that fighter in spite of the accolades of BKFC day one athlete Bedford, or the surging Alers.
Who is the face of BKFC? Bedford, Alers or someone else that I haven’t mentioned. I’d love to hear from you, the fans.
Christopher James has been in the MMA industry for 15 years, Working as a ring announcer for promotions like the XFC, Island Fights, Combat Night and Fight Nights Global during his career. Chris’ love for the sport and the athletes that partake in it led him to writing and doing face to face interviews with the athletes he admired and respected. Chris isn’t conventional by any stretch of the imagination, he has his own style, and takes pride in not being a “cookie-cutter” member of the media. Unique and sometimes controversial takes are what he brings to the table, forcing folks to think a little differently about the world of MMA. He also has a love for music as he has been a dj for 25 years and his love for music gets brought to the MMA world when he gets his guests to sing on his weekly show Cage Side with Christopher James which can be seen Wednesday nights on FACEBOOK LIVE, and soon via podcast.