Updated: Jul 17
Terry Janoski doesn't need to fight, he just loves to do it.
Returning to professional action for the first time since 2015, Janoski, 31, will make his bare knuckle debut at BKFC 19 on July 23 in Tampa, Florida.
"I came up in kickboxing," Janoski said about his prior combat sports experience. "I have a few kickboxing fights under my belt. I then switched to MMA. There really was no money in kickboxing. There was no hype."
Janoski's last professional mixed martial arts bout took place approximately six years ago, but despite the lengthy layoff, this entrepreneur insists that he hasn't been sitting idle at home on the couch.
The former Pennsylvania native who now resides in Florida, currently teaches students out of Gracie Tampa and Shift MMA, but he also owns and operates a highly successful youth sports photography and trophy business that has allowed him to live comfortably and not have to compete inside the cage.
"We went from doing about $150,000 a year, five years ago, to do a little over a million dollars a year now," Janoski said of the brand he built at Graphic Athletics. "We donate about $250,00 to $300,000 a year to youth sports."
With business booming the way it is, there was no urgent need for Janoski to commit to training, or to return to the ring or cage.
"I don't need to fight," he said. "I'm purely in it just because I love it. My father was a fighter and now I've got a kid on the way and I would love for him to one day be able to tell people that his dad was the 185-pound bare knuckle champion."
Janoski and his girlfriend are expecting their first born to arrive next month, just a few weeks after the upcoming fight. It wasn't long ago that he wasn't even aware of sanctioned bare knuckle competition, but now Janoski is about to embark on a mission to claim a championship in the sport, and one day pass his love for the craft down to his son.
"Bare knuckle started coming around and getting popular," Janoski said of learning about the world's fastest growing sport. That's when the itch to compete started to make a comeback.
"My coach hit me up and was like 'Hey, have you seen this bare knuckle thing?' So I watched it and was like 'Wow, this is made for me. Five, two-minute rounds of just throwing hands, bare knuckle.' That's what I liked most about fighting, just throwing hands. I want to stand up and trade with people. Fighting five, five-minute rounds, I would get tired sometimes because I would come out and trade, but five, two's.... I can come out and trade the whole time."
Now with an official bout agreement in place, Janoski is eager to toe the line in the squared-circle.
"I feel like I'm going to be a big surprise for a lot of people," he said. "I like fighting. My biggest thing in MMA was that I would hesitate sometimes. I would hate getting taken down and held down. When it comes to trading hands... I love throwing bones at people. It's known at Gracie Tampa that if you are partnered with me during sparring days, you are going to strike with me, and I'm going to enjoy it. I love that. I'm doing well financially now, but I feel that bare knuckle is just made for me. If I get to throw hands at somebody, I love it. And we get a little break in-between rounds. I get to come out and punch you again.... sign me up."
When asked about his game plan for BKFC 19, Janoski was confident that he will have his hand raised no matter who the opponent is.
"I look at myself like a chess player. I'm gonna come out, figure out what you do wrong, and make you pay for it."
BKFC 19 is headlined by The Rematch: Paige VanZant vs. Rachael Ostovich on Friday, July 23 at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, FL and broadcast on FITE.TV, (8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT) in addition to the BKTV APP for existing subscribers.
Advance tickets starting at $65 are now on-sale through BKFC.com. The Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds is located at 4800 US-301, Tampa, FL 33610. Doors will open on the night of the event at 7:00 p.m. ET with the first bell at 8:00 p.m. ET.