Reggie Barnett Jr. is on a mission to climb back up the ladder towards earning a second shot a Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship gold.
After earning three straight unanimous decision wins with the promotion, Barnett was given an opportunity to fight for the promotion’s lightweight title against former UFC fighter Johnny Bedford.
Both men were undefeated in the sport of bare knuckle leading up to the June 2019 blockbuster. There was a lot of bad blood before the contest leading to trash talk from both fighters, particularly by Bedford.
“I got caught up in the hype, he got in my head,” Barnett said of Bedford’s tactics.
“I did the exact opposite of what I was known to do. I always stick to a game plan. I always fight my fight, but not this time,” he said. “It sucks that I had to learn that lesson in a world title fight.”
While the two men may have needed security to keep them separated prior to the official fight, Barnett and Bedford eventually earned respect for one another. Bedford had his hand raised and would take home the title, while Barnett would have to figure out what went wrong.
“I have spoken to Johnny since the fight. I think it was more him selling the fight, getting fans and media hyped up for people to watch. It got to me.”
With the fight now in his rearview mirror, Barnett looks to bounce back at BKFC 10 on February 15 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The man standing opposite him will be Matt Murphy, who also happens to have a bare knuckle loss to Bedford.
“Matt and I are the only two that you could say ‘survived Johnny Bedford’ in bare knuckle,” Barnett said.
“If I am being honest, their fight was closer than mine was against Bedford,” he continued.
While Barnett believes that the fight between his future and former opponent may have been more competitive, the 33-year-old Virginia native doesn’t think Murphy will come out victorious when they meet on pay-per-view.
“He’s not the most technical boxer in the world,” Barnett said of Murphy.
If anyone knows anything about boxing it is Barnett. The fighter amassed a whopping 92 amateur fights and won state Silver Gloves, Golden Gloves and Junior Olympics titles before turning pro.
Murphy himself has extensive time in the ring, but unfortunately his record is not working in his favor as he has earned just three wins in 48 outings.
Barnett says that he will continue to mix it up between boxing, MMA, and bare knuckle competition, but believes that Bare Knuckle FC will be his mainstay.
“Bare Knuckle FC is where I would prefer to fight,” he said. “I’m happy with them, I’m elated every time they offer me a fight.”
The only change that Barnett would like to make is to fight closer to his natural weight.
“I box at 130-pounds. In bare knuckle, against guys like Bedford, I’m fighting at 135-pounds. You could see the size difference, and that’s not the game plan. I should be fighting closer to my walk around weight.”
Barnett described Bedford’s punches to be like “a baseball bat connecting to the side of my head.”
In order for Barnett to fight the size differential he is working on weight training and getting stronger, packing on some muscle.
“I’m going to throw the same punches, but with a little more pop and power. I need to get back to the Reggie of BKFC 1. Faster, stronger, sharper, a raging lunatic.”
Understanding the requirements ahead of him, Barnett is putting in a lot of hours at the gym. Just like most fighters, he also holds down a full time job which means even more time away from his wife, daughter, and unborn son. Barnett spends his days working as a Termite Technician at Hampton Roads Termite & Pest Control and puts in the gym work at 757 Boxing Club.
“Time management is key,” Barnett said.
He will train on a specific skillset at around 5:30 a.m., so that later on after work, he can head back to the gym and hone in on that piece he was working for another two or three hours.
It is a lot of work, but Barnett sees the goal within reach.
"I don't think Matt is going to be able to stayin there with me. I just want it more," Barnett said.
About BKFC 10
A showdown between Cuban sensation Hector "Showeather" Lombard and hard-hitting David Mundell will headline BKFC 10 as Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) hits South Florida with an explosive cruiserweight main attraction taking place Saturday, February 15 live on pay-per-view from the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The co-main event will feature an all-action 155-pound contest between Jim Alers and Kaleb Harris. Also competing on February 15 will be Luis Palomino facing Elvin Britto in a 155-pound bout, as well as Dat Nguyen squaring off against Abdiel Velazquez in a 135-pound fight.
"BKFC 10" 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.
Tickets are on sale now at bareknuckle.tv.