It's a rematch between two former UFC foes in the main event of Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 19 on Friday night.
Paige VanZant is continuing her foray into bare-knuckle fighting and taking on BKFC newcomer Rachael Ostovich. VanZant and Ostovich met in a memorable UFC fight in 2019, which ended with a second-round submission win for VanZant.
Paige VanZant Odds
After VanZant’s UFC career flamed out, the 27-year-old reportedly signed a four-fight deal with the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship in 2020. This will be her second BKFC fight after losing by unanimous decision to Britain Hart in February. VanZant, who holds an 8-5 career MMA record, wasn’t known as a brawler in the UFC. She only produced two punching knockouts in the UFC, with the last one coming against Bec Rawlings in 2016.
Despite never facing Ostovich in bare-knuckle boxing before, VanZant will clearly be familiar with her opponent after facing her in the UFC flyweight division in 2019. It will be interesting to see what strategy VanZant attempts in the BKFC. She beat Ostovich with a second-round armbar in their first fight, but grappling is obviously off the table on Friday.
VanZant has a three-inch reach advantage over Ostovich, which she utilized well in their UFC bout. Ultimately, VanZant’s biggest advantage is experience with bare-knuckle boxing. Her best strategy to win is to keep Ostovich uncomfortable. She can’t let Ostovoch dictate the pace of the fight. VanZant knows what to expect when the fight starts, so it’s tough to see her not winning this.
Rachael Ostovich Odds
It’s been a tough road for Ostovich over the last few years. The 30-year old was released from the UFC in December after three straight losses and she has a losing 4-6 career MMA record. Ostovich has never fought bare-knuckle boxing before and she never recorded a knockout win in her UFC career. She’s been off since a UFC third-round TKO loss against Gina Mazany in November and hasn’t won a fight since a first-round armbar submission against Karine Gevorgyan in 2017.
Ostovich is new to bare-knuckle boxing, but so is her opponent. She’s not facing a champion, or a veteran, or even a fighter with a win on her record, so Ostovich isn’t quite the underdog some people see her as. Ironically, Ostovich was actually the better striker in their earlier fight. A broken orbital bone suffered before the fight kept Ostovich from engaging heavily standing up, so she was forced to grapple and go for a submission.
The biggest physical obstacle in this fight for Ostovich is her reach disadvantage. Reach is clearly going to be a bigger factor in this fight than it has been in any of Ostovich’s UFC fights, so she’ll need superior footwork if she’s going to have a chance to win. Ostovich’s best shot to win is to be patient and keep VanZant moving. If she can wear VanZant down and carefully pick her places, she could pull off the upset.
VanZant vs. Ostovich BKFC 19 Prediction
It’s a completely different discipline for this fight, so it’s tough to put too much importance on VanZant and Ostovich’s UFC fight. Ostovich’s boxing was always a weak spot in her UFC career, so debuting against a fighter with more bare-knuckle experience, albeit one fight, is not a good sign. VanZant will win this fight by unanimous decision.