After a 2-0 start, and recently earning the opportunity to headline the upcoming BKFC 16 fight card, it is hard to argue that Joe "Hitman" Elmore is one of the hottest prospects in the sport of bare knuckle fighting.
At age 38, Elmore will step into the squared-circle against a fellow seasoned veteran in Leonard Garcia.
“I’m excited," Elmore said about the shot he has been given. "I’m where I deserve to be. I’ve been fighting for this for a long time. I’ve got 40 pro fights and I’ve been the main event for about 30 of them. I just needed a promotion with the proper ability to make me shine. I told David Feldman (BKFC President), ‘it’s my talent, my hard work, and my viciousness that was designed for this sport, but it’s your platform.’ I’m just excited to have this platform and do what I’m gonna do.
With approximately 40 fights each, Elmore and Garcia are both battle-tested warriors with an earned mutual respect for one another.
"I love Leonard Garcia," Elmore said. "I’m a huge fan of his. He’s a legend, but with all of my heart, I believe I am the legend killer. I’m coming out here to knock him out. I’ve never been dropped in 40 fights. I’m not nervous at all. I’m excited. The more I have on my shoulders, the more I’m driven with adrenaline just to fight. The big crowds don’t make me nervous. They make me happy nervous. It’s what I crave.”
Garcia made his BKFC debut on February 2, 2019 at BKFC-4: USA vs. Mexico with a sensational second round knockout of Julian Lane. Against Elmore he will be looking to bounce back into the win column following a loss to Jim Alers at BKFC-7 on August 10, 2019.
Moving quickly through the BKFC ranks, Elmore stopped Will Chope in the first round at BKFC-11 on July 24, 2020 and followed that up with a unanimous decision victory over Tom Shoaff on September 11, 2020 at BKFC-12.
“100,000 percent Bare Knuckle is my sport," Elmore said when asked about moving from MMA to bare knuckle.
"Guys like Kimbo Slice, Nate Diaz, ‘Street Jesus’ Jorge Masvidal, man, I grew up fighting like that. I was undersized. I was 103-pounds but I was Golden Gloves champion. I used to get paid to fight on the underground circuits. That was before my pro fight career. I didn’t lose there so this is amazing to me that it is now sanctioned and allowed. One of my best friends name his son after John L. Sullivan (legendary bare knuckle boxer). He named him “Sully.” I’ve been chasing this for a long time. This is my home. I’m going to be a champion at 165-pounds. I love it. I wouldn’t go back to MMA.”
While Elmore may have respect for Garcia, he knows that he has to make a statement in order to get his next big opportunity.
“Death," Elmore said when asked what fans can expect to see on March 19 in Biloxi, Mississippi. "We are going to try kill each other in the most honorable way. I’m gonna go out there and try to knock his head off and beat Uly Diaz’s world-record and get that one-second knockout. He’s gonna try to do the same thing. Either one of us knocks each other out or we are going to go five rounds and our faces are going to be peeled off and we get ‘Fight of the Year.’ That’s what I hope for every time. This isn’t the main event. This is a bonus fight. This is ‘Fight of the Night,’ ‘Fight of the Year,’ ‘Knockout of the Night.’ It just happens to be on the main event."
Elmore isn't looking past the upcoming fight against Garcia, but he definitely has his eyes set on achieving the goals he has set for himself.
“I’m gonna knock out Leonard Garcia," he said. "I’m gonna win the 165-pound title. I’m gonna defend that title and then I’m gonna do a 175-pound superfight and win that title, whether it is against David Rickels or whoever it is. I’m gonna bump up, bump down, whatever. I’m going to run the 165-pound division, but I want to be a dual champion. I want to be the Chuck Liddell, Conor McGregor, Dan Henderson of BKFC. I want to surpass the UFC and have us be the most legit sport in the world. I’ve focused everything in my life into that. Me, my wife, my family, my son. Everybody is board. I’ve got 40 family members coming in. I’ve got tables and front row seats reserved. We are going to be there and run it."
BKFC 16 takes place Friday, March 19 from the Biloxi Civic Center in Biloxi, MS and live on the BKTV APP, (8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m.).
Tickets for BKFC-16 are Now On-Sale starting at $55 and may be purchased through the BKFC website, www.bkfc.com. The Biloxi Civic Center is located at 578 Howard Street, Biloxi, MS 39530. Doors will open on the night of the event at 6PMCT with the first bell at 7PMCT.