EXCLUSIVE | WBKFF star Isaac Vallie-Flagg details the subtle perks of fighting without gloves

Isaac Vallie-Flagg, WBKFF
Image via WBKFF Instagram

Isaac Vallie-Flagg, who is a veteran of the Strikeforce and UFC cages, has seen pretty much everything when it comes to mixed martial arts. Last weekend, however, the MMA veteran ventured into a new and unfamiliar realm of combat sports: bare knuckle fighting.

Vallie-Flagg did so as part of the inaugural show from upstart bare knuckle promotion World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation (WBKFF), battling Cory Simpson on the undercard of the event.

Once he’d stepped into the ring with Simpson at WBKFF 1, Vallie-Flagg had to adjust to this new form of fighting on the fly.

Speaking on episode 104 of BJPENN.COM Radio, he recounted his first experience fighting sans gloves.

“So, the first round was, number one, getting used to the range of doing bare-knuckle stuff,” Isaac Vallie-Flagg said on the show. “Feeling the difference of the bare-knuckle versus having gloves on. So, that was the first round. I had to take a couple punches, find my range. And then the second round was really me getting excited and going, ‘Okay. I got this.’ And doing what I like to do.”

Once he’d gotten comfortable in the ring, Isaac Vallie-Flagg says he started to enjoy some of the nuances of fighting with naked knuckles. Most notably, he says he could really feel what part of his foe’s face his fists were making impact with.

“Yeah, there is [a difference fighting without gloves],” he said. “The biggest one was, not so much worrying about me getting hit and what that was going to feel like, but how I was going to target different stuff, and how it was going to feel on my hands. There was a point — and I remember getting really excited about this — I hit Corey in the bridge of the nose and then I’d hit in at the end of the nose. I could feel the difference between the bridge of his nose and the rest of his nose. I was like, ‘Oh, shit. I really like this.’

“And then realizing how I could target with bare fists,” he said. “So that’s why I felt like I had to be a little bit more patient, and really target right. If you look at the two of us, he was throwing bombs and he was hitting me. And I honestly look a little bit worse than him, which is not saying much because I still look okay. But, I was picking my shots and I was shooting for his chin and for soft areas. So, I didn’t hurt my hands.”

Leaving the ring with his hands in tact, Vallie-Flagg clarified, was one of his primary missions.

“I wanted to come away from this fight with as little damage as possible and still do damage,” he said. “So, like I said, I needed to find the soft areas, or the chin.”

Although Isaac Vallie-Flagg had been retired from MMA prior to his bare knuckle debut, he says he really enjoyed the experience, and is keen to keep competing in gloveless fighting under the WBKFF banner.

“I’m waiting to talk contract stuff, do a multi year deal,” he said. “I mean, I like this. I really do dig it. I’d like to be involved in it.”

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/18/2018.