When UFC veteran Alan Belcher ended his retirement for bare-knuckle fighting and boxing, he was adamant about only facing the biggest and best challenges.
For Belcher, it wasn’t all about money. It was more about his accomplishments and adding to the legacy that he left behind after competing in MMA for almost a decade.
On Friday night, Belcher battles for the BKFC heavyweight title in a matchup against reigning champion Arnold Adams. He has a chance to prove his return to fighting was worth it.
“This would be my first world championship,” Belcher told MMA Fighting. It’s something I take very seriously. It is part of what I do every day. This is part of my business. Part of my legacy. Winning to me just means that I’m progressing.
“Winning this fight just means that everything, all the lessons I’ve learned in my life and my career and the last couple of years of getting back into the sport and learning and growing, winning this fight just means that I’m very conscious and aware that I did things right and I didn’t get in my own way.”
Belcher already has a few highlight-reel knockouts at the BKFC Ring, and becoming heavyweight champion would add the cherry to his otherwise bare-knuckle-career.
Belcher still has lofty ambitions in BKFC and in boxing. Francis Ngannou (former champion of UFC) is a name that Belcher is interested in. He left the promotion after his fight in 2021..
While Belcher has no idea if Ngannou would ever entertain a bare-knuckle fight, BKFC President Dave Feldman has already pitched the idea with hopes to speak to “The Predator” about potentially working together.
“I’m 100 percent interested in that,” Belcher said when asked about Ngannou. “I want to fight the best in the world, and Francis Ngannou checks that box. Fighters are looking for the media attention, publicity and money. I think this is what the fans want to see.
“In my last couple of years, I’ve set out to be a knockout artist. In my first fight [in BKFC], I went to a decision. I was just kind of feeling it out. After that, I got to work. Now that my feet are wet, my confidence is high. I am now focusing on the science behind how to win the fight quickly with my hands and, if that doesn’t happen quickly enough, making sure I keep winning each round. I’ve been told by coaches in the past that you shouldn’t try to knock out someone. That is my intention right now. When I come to fight you, I’m coming to knock you out.”
Ngannou has been called possibly the hardest puncher in MMA history, taking out legendary strikers like Alistair Overeem and Stipe Miocic, who holds the record as the longest-reigning heavyweight champion in UFC history.
Belcher knows Ngannou would be an incredibly dangerous opponent, especially without gloves on. He refuses to give up on a challenge like that.
“If I fight Francis Ngannou, I’m coming to knock you out,” Belcher said. “I believe it 100 percent. Belief is the most powerful thing. Belief is even more powerful that truth, and that’s where you get into a scenario with someone like me seems like an underdog. I can’t believe you’re fighting Francis Ngannou! He’s then laying on the canvas .”
There’s no timeline when Ngannou might fight next, much less if he’ll choose MMA, boxing or some other combat sport. Belcher has made it clear that he is open to this idea.
“Arnold Adams is a vehicle for me to create that, so I have to knock him out,” Belcher said. “My goal is to knock him out in a spectacular type of fashion that way it makes more sense for a fight like [Francis Ngannou] to happen. Anything is possible.
“Maybe BKFC wants to do a boxing match or something like that. I think Francis Ngannou probably doesn’t want to jump right into bare-knuckle boxing against the best guys in the world. You have a lot to learn.
“Just because you’re a big, great athlete, UFC champion doesn’t mean you can come into bare-knuckle and knock everyone out. It does give you some advantages, I know that, but it doesn’t mean that you can do anything. Maybe Arnold Adams can fight next. Let’s do it.”