Virginia's Brian Maxwell will become one of the latest in the group of professional mixed martial artists to make the leap into the sport of bare knuckle boxing when he meets Jared Warren at Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 8 next weekend in Tampa.
The 32-year old Maxwell hosts a pro MMA record of 3-2, and sits a 1-0-1 in Muay Thai, but believes that he has found a new home and sport as he has signed a multi-fight deal with BKFC.
Maxwell, who initially made his amateur MMA debut in 2011 before turning pro in 2016, said that a recent trip with a teammate sparked his interest in bare knuckle competition.
"What made me finally make my leap to bare knuckle was timing," Maxwell stated. "I watched BKFC 1, but then one of my training partners, Bruce Abramski, fought Kendall Grove at BKFC 2. I was fortunate enough to be in his corner and it sparked my interest. A lot of the fighters thought that I was there to fight that weekend. It felt kind of cool with the cameras on me and stuff but I was there for my training partner. I wasn't there to steal his shine or anything. I wanted everything to point to his direction. I wasn't there for that. I got offered a fight then but like I said, 'I wasn't there for that,' so I turned it down. A couple months went by and they had tryouts in Philadelphia. I got in touch with Mr. Feldman (David, President of BKFC) and Nate Shook (matchmaker) and they had me fill out a form. I went to Philly, tried out, felt I did fairly well, and I got the call. I didn't know when I was going to fight. They said I had to get another win on my record so I fought a couple months ago, got the win, and then I got offered the opportunity on BKFC 8."
"I'm doing my normal training," Maxwell said of the preparation for his first bare knuckle fight.
"I do crossfit workouts five to six days a week. Still doing that. I've picked up more boxing. I've gone to several gyms this camp to work with different boxers, to make the transition easier. I love striking, but I also love wrestling. I like to take people down and beat them up. The transition so far... I've been training now in this camp for about eight weeks, and I'm feeling very comfortable for the fight next weekend."
When asked if the move to bare knuckle from MMA is permanent, Maxwell already knew his answer.
"I've thought about it a whole lot. With this multi-fight deal, I'm going to stick with them (BKFC). I feel like it's my calling. But in the mix, if they allow it, I'll still be doing MMA also. I'm not the kind of person to be a one-dimensional athlete.'
"Hopefully after these three fights, whether they are spaced out over time, or they are close together, this is my calling, and hopefully we can sign for more," he said of the move to BKFC. "I hope to make this my home permanently but still do a little bit of MMA and Muay Thai along the way."
Maxwell says that he sees a trend in the way the sport of bare knuckle is on the rise, and it is a trend he doesn't see stopping any time soon.
"There's a lot of MMA guys crossing over. I've seen guys jumping there since BKFC 1. Half the guys are boxers, the other half are MMA guys. The big thing I think is it is new, it's growing, and you have more of a chance to show the world what you can do. I think it is the 'in your face' style that shows everybody this is fun. I give it three to five years and I think it is going to take over and be bigger than the UFC in my opinion."
Having his friend and training partner already have a fight with the BKFC promotion under his belt, Maxwell feels he has an advantage going into BKFC 8.
"I'm not going into this fight blind. I've been there, I've seen it. I've watch video, after video, after video," he said. "Of course I was at the trials but I've also seen every second of every show, whether it was on Facebook live or on pay-per-view. I feel very good about it and Bruce has helped me a whole lot during this transition. We have our thoughts, and of course we train together, so we've been getting in the work. It's been awesome so far. All my other teams at the other gyms have also been a great help to me."
Bare Knuckle FC 8 takes place October 19 from the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida. The event is headlined by former UFC fighters Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and Gabriel Gonzaga.
BKFC 8 will be broadcast across the United States and Canada, exclusively on pay-per-view through MultiVision Media, Inc., on all major television distribution outlets for $29.99. It will also be available to BKFC's international broadcast partners worldwide and via stream to all in-home and out-of-home connected devices through FITE.