Exclusive: Bare-Knuckle Organization ‘BYB Extreme Fighting Series’ Open to Sign Mega-Stars Like Conor McGregor, Donald Cerrone, and Anyone Who “Wants to Test Their Skills”
In the wake of BYB Extreme founder Dada’s interest in staging a potential bare-knuckle bout between Daniel Dubois and Oleksandr Usyk, we got in touch with the CEO of BYB Extreme, Gregory Bloom. Besides branding their “brawls” “the purest form of fighting,” Bloom suggested and welcomed the idea of having the likes of Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone “test their skills” in BYB.
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Along these lines, he hoped that in five years BYB Extreme would enjoy the status of “the biggest promotion in all of combat sports”. And while there are “initial hurdles to overcome,” with the growth in “financially lucrative outlets,” the CEO wished that bare-knuckle athletes would one day be “compensated equally to their boxing and MMA counterparts”.
A round of 7 questions with Gregory Bloom, CEO of BYB Extreme
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Author: What led to the establishment of BYB Extreme? Who and what were the sources of inspiration for BYB Extreme?
Bloom: “BYB Extreme originated with the godfather of bare-knuckle fighting, Dada 5000. Dada’s backyard fights at the world-renowned “Green House” gained worldwide popularity online, and then through the internationally successful documentary “Dawg Fight”. These “backyard brawls” were initially used as a way to promote alternative ways for individuals to settle disputes in more structured environment.
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From there, in 2015, Dada was introduced to Mike Vazquez and BYB Extreme was founded in an effort to harness the excitement of bare-knuckle fighting into a more organized combat sports product for a wider, more mainstream audience.”
Author: A number of people consider David Feldman, Sr. founder of BKFC, the pioneer of sanctioned bare-knuckle bouts in the United States. Despite being founded three years after BYB Extreme, has not BKFC surpassed BYB in terms of global viewership?
Bloom: “I guess it is the same way that a number of people look at Mark Zuckerberg as the founder of Facebook. No doubt that David has done, and continues to do, a tremendous amount for the sport of bare-knuckle fighting, but it is disappointing that our competitors continue to perpetrate the façade of being pioneers of the sport. Anyone inside the sport, or any journalist who does the proper research would know that Dada 5000 and Mike Vazquez are the true pioneers of sanctioned bare-knuckle bouts in the United States.”
Author: Given the nature of the bouts, BYB Extreme recognizes the contests as “brawls”. Brawl is a term we are used to associating with something that’s out of hand, totally disorganized and all over the place. How do you place brawl on the same page as sports?
Bloom: “The definition of a “brawl” is “a fight or a quarrel in a rough or noisy way”. BYB Extreme recognizes their contests as “brawls” because that is exactly what they are, rough fights. But, just because these are “rough fights” does not make them any less demanding of athletic prowess or organized skill. Any athlete, (and let me be clear that all our competitors are athletes trained at the highest level), who has competed inside the mighty Trigon will tell you that is the truest fighting platform in all of combat sports.
Unlike other bare-knuckle rings, there is nowhere to run, and if you are in a corner the only way out is forward. Competing for BYB Extreme is the most challenging way for a bare-knuckle fighter to showcase that he is the best in this sport. Don’t take my word for it, just ask anyone who has fought for BYB Extreme as opposed to any other bare-knuckle company and they will tell you how our “brawls” are the purest form of fighting in this sport.”
In an ESPN article titled “Blood sport: Bare-knuckle fighting emerges from shadows,” John Barr quoted Don Muzzi in the context of the injuries suffered by bare-knuckle athletes. As per Muzzi, the brain injuries were more significant and more of a threat to bare-knuckle athletes. Likewise, Bloom was asked the following:
Author: Dr. Don Muzzi [President of the Association of Ringside Physicians] who worked with BKFC said, “It’s the brain injuries that are more significant and more of a threat to these athletes, and that’s what we should be focusing on”. In that context, what measures has BYB Extreme taken to prevent “brain injuries” of the athletes involved? How are you ensuring your “brawlers” healthy lives?
Bloom: “To my knowledge, Dr. Muzzi engaged in a multi-year study of bare-knuckle fights and the data from that study actually suggested that bare-knuckle fighting is four times less of a threat statistically for traumatic brain injury compared to boxing and five times less of a threat statistically than MMA.
BYB Extreme, like any other combat sports promotion, follows all state commission guidelines and unified rules to ensure, to the best of our ability, that we do everything to try and mitigate injuries to our athletes. However, this is a sport where athletes are trying to punch each other in the face and knock their opponent unconscious, so there is an obvious, intrinsic risk of injury.”
Author: One must admit that bare-knuckle bouts today have served a global audience. Likewise, one must also acknowledge the degree of homogenous human labor that these athletes expend in producing these commodities in the form of brawls that people consume. If Money, as Marx puts it, “is the socially recognised incarnation of human labor,” then don’t you think the bare-knuckle fighters or “brawlers” should belong to the category of the wealthiest athletes?
Bloom: “Bare-knuckle athletes train and compete as hard as any other athletes in combat sports. BYB Extreme is trying to showcase those talents to a global audience, and hopefully, we can continue to grow the live viewership, sponsorship, media coverage and other financially lucrative outlets that will enable these athletes to eventually be compensated equally to their boxing and MMA counterparts.
But just like MMA twenty years ago, there are initial hurdles to overcome in an effort to have bare-knuckle fighting accepted as a mainstream sport, and when that happens, the monetary rewards will hopefully be able to grow as well.”
Author: The BKFC signed some popular faces from the UFC including Paige Vanzant, Luke Rockhold and Mike Perry. Subsequently, they have increased their viewership. On the other hand, BYB Extreme has also got Desmond Green who formerly competed in the UFC. Does BYB Extreme have any other popular faces currently in mind that they would like to sign?
Bloom: “We are always looking for the most competitive fighters to fight for BYB Extreme, and BYB Extreme is focused on giving a platform to the BEST bare-knuckle fighters in the world. Our roster, from top to bottom is more competitive than any other bare-knuckle organization in the world, and we are cultivating a roster of young, hungry fighters dedicated primarily to the sport of bare-knuckle fighting as opposed to paying an exorbitant amount to a “popular face” in an effort to increase viewership.
However, if Connor McGregor, Donald Cerrone or anyone else who has recently thought about committing themselves to bare-knuckle fighting, wants to test their skills, there is only one place to truly do so, and that is not in a 50’ “squared circle”, but in the confines of the mighty Trigon, the smallest surface in combat sports and the truest test of bare-knuckle skill.”
In this connection, it is worth mentioning that Conor McGregor recently announced his interest in a bare-knuckle match with KSI.
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Author: Recently, BYB had a sold-out BYB 19 “Brawl in the Pines” at the Charles F. Dodge Center in Pembroke Pines. At this pace, where do you see BYB Extreme in the next five years?
Bloom: “Five years from now if BYB Extreme is not the biggest promotion in all of combat sports, not just bare-knuckle fighting, then we have failed. BYB Extreme will continue to sell out venues, continue to put on the most exciting events in combat sports and continue to be the number one promotion in bare-knuckle fighting across the globe.”
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