In the ever-growing resurgence that is bare knuckle boxing is the opportunity for veteran fighters of multiple disciplines to try out something new, including former UFC fighter Kendall Grove.
Grove, one of several mixed martial artists who have signed on to compete in Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, started his bare knuckle boxing career earlier this year in the promotion’s second show. Now, Grove is competing at “BKFC 3: The Takeover” in Biloxi, Mississippi on October 20 and looking forward to continuing his new career.
In an interview with Fightful, Grove explained when he got interested in BKFC. Grove explained that he watched the promotion’s first show from this past summer and it got him interested in trying it out. After getting in contact with fellow BKFC fighter Joey Beltran, as well as people who work with BKFC CEO David Feldman, Grove found himself signing with the promotion.
“It was after the first show. I reached out to Joey Beltran on social media and asked him about it. He gave me his two cents and his experiences and asked if I was interested. I said, ‘Yeah, possibly, possibly.’ Then I saw it blow up and news coming out on social media. A lot of people were saying good things about it and it got me more interested,” Grove said.
The 35-year-old Grove has had a long MMA career that included winning the third season of The Ultimate Fighter, more than a dozen fights with the UFC and most recently, fighting for Bellator MMA from 2013 to earlier this year.
His last MMA fight at Bellator 193 resulted in him losing to A.J. Matthews by split decision, his third straight loss. When asked about a return to MMA, Grove didn’t rule it out, but said he is happy at BKFC and if he sees a long-term future with the company, then Grove’s days as an MMA fighter are possibly numbered.
“Right now, as it stands, I’m just cool with just doing bare knuckle boxing. I gave myself the whole year to take a break from MMA and see how this goes. This is an opportunity for me to go and try something new. If I can make something of this, maybe I won’t have a reason to come back to MMA. Maybe this is a new venture for me. This has a lot of good momentum and I’m just happy to be a part of it for now,” Grove said.
Making the transition from MMA to bare knuckle boxing has been interesting for Grove. Since bare knuckle boxing doesn't involve any wrestling or kicking whatsoever, training camps are completely different. The focus on the preparation is now solely on the boxing portion and being able to fight smart since fighters don't have traditional boxing or MMA gloves anymore.
“I ain’t got handwraps to protect my knuckles so now I have to pick my punches. I can’t just throw wild punches because I can just break my hand in the first round and then now what? That’s definitely something you got to think more about. There’s also a lot of footwork [involved], a lot of in and out, range and just trying to pick them apart. If all else fails, you just got to tuck your chin and swing,” Grove said.
Grove made his BKFC debut on August 25 on the promotion's second show. Grove faced Bruce Abramski and won the bout by unanimous decision.