By Dennis Taylor
Psst … somebody’s been flirting with Cris Cyborg, and the world’s most-feared female fighter apparently just winked back.
The Brazilian mixed martial arts superstar is coyly hinting about her attraction to a sexy new player in the world of international combat sports, Bare Knuckle Fighting (BKF), which, for the uninitiated, is precisely what you probably imagine: Legalized fistfights. No hand wraps or headgear … no kicking, biting, or gouging … no “ground and pound” … only the honorable, ancient, and (until now) traditionally manly art of serving up knuckle sandwiches and gut punches until your opponent falls over, quits, or is saved by a merciful referee.
Cyborg (real name is Cristiane Justino) has contractual obligations for two more fights with the world’s largest mixed martial arts company (shhh … you know the one). Like a married woman pondering an illicit affair, she’s keeping any thoughts about BKF to herself for now, but she recently batted her eyelashes at BKF with a Twitter post (since deleted) that expressed her intrigue.
What’s certain is that Philadelphia-based BKF is actively exploring the possibility of adding a women’s division to its organization, and is actively and openly shopping for star power, male and female, before engaging in an all-out, high-profile quest to lure financial backing and explode onto the international scene.
Scott Burt President of Bareknuckle Boxing Hall of Fame and the National Police Gazette has agreed to sanction a women’s BKB division and it’s been over 130 years since one was fought.
It’s top name and best ambassador, at the moment, is heavyweight champion Bobby Gunn (a former world cruiserweight boxing champ), whose BKF record is 73-0, with 73 KOs.
“Underground fights in parking lots and garages have been around since the beginning of time, but we (at BKF) did the only legitimate, sanctioned event on Aug. 5, 2011,” said Gunn, who defeated Rich Stewart in that fight. “They showed it on UStream, a small streaming company that didn’t have much technology, at $10 a pop. It crashed after 50,000 buys, and as of today there are more than one million people who have tried to access the video.”
Gunn’s greatest opportunity to usher Bare Knuckle Fighting onto the world stage was a planned showdown with underground fighting legend Kimbo Slice (real name Kevin Ferguson), who reportedly had agreed to what would have been the most-anticipated organized fistfight since Jake Kilrain lost the world bare knuckle title to John L. Sullivan in 1889.
Sadly, Ferguson, known as “King of the Web Brawlers,” unexpectedly succumbed to heart disease in June at age 42.
Just a few weeks ago, a rumor went viral (all the way to The Ring magazine) that none other than Mike Tyson was considering a foray into the bare knuckle world to fight Gunn.
No truth to it, says Gunn with a laugh. What is true, he says, is that multiple big-name athletes from the worlds of professional boxing and mixed martial arts are eying the BKF as an exciting new frontier of fully sanctioned competitive combat. It’s only a steamy rumor right now, but Cris Cyborg might only become the first A-list pioneer to make the jump.