Rachel Ostovich waited 2 1/2 years to avenge her loss to Paige VanZant in the UFC.
But the rematch was devoid of gloves and they traded an Octagon for a ring as Ostovich defeated VanZant by unanimous decision in the main event of Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 19 at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Fla., on Friday.
It was a wild night for BKFC, one that saw social media influencers put on boxing gloves, a rapper get attacked by a fan after he beat up a TikTokker and a carnival of the absurd. But you couldn’t say it wasn’t entertaining. And that included a main event between two former UFC fighters that was highly anticipated and lived up to the expectations.
VanZant and Ostovich first met in 2019, with VanZant submitting her opponent in the second round with an armbar. VanZant signed with BKFC after fighting out her contract and lost her debut bout earlier this year. As for Ostovich, she was released from the UFC following a three-fight losing streak. Rather than ink a deal with another MMA promotion, Ostovich followed VanZant to BKFC and signed on to be VanZant’s second opponent.
Although both women didn’t want to call it a rematch due to the rules of BKFC being completely different, it was impossible to ignore considering their history. And Ostovich just might have a future in BKFC with a stellar performance against her foe.
It may have been Ostovich’s first bare-knuckle fight, but she was clearly up to the task and may have VanZant reconsidering her career as a bare-knuckle fighter now that she has suffered a second consecutive loss.
It was clear from the opening seconds that Ostovich was the more powerful of the two fighters as she uncorked a hard right hand to start. VanZant sought to close the distance and the two engaged in some in-fighting, but Ostovich had the advantage whenever there was separation as her right hand landed almost at will.
The second round was fought at a distance. VanZant picked up the activity but still struggled to avoid Ostovich’s right hand. As the fight progressed, Ostovich found comfort in countering VanZant’s advances and occasionally pressed the action to not allow VanZant to find any comfort.
The third round was relatively close until Ostovich landed a hard two-punch combination as she stepped inside. VanZant’s activity likely gave her the round, however. It appeared that VanZant was getting into a rhythm with her jab and bloodied Ostovich’s nose with a stiff punch in the fourth, but once again, Ostovich picked off VanZant with a counter right hand and hurt her. It was clear that VanZant was shaken up and she did her best to clinch, but Ostovich would not be denied.
After the final round was much of the same, the final bell sounded and Ostovich raised her hands as she knew she had avenged her loss. The scores were 49-46 48-47 and 48-47. She may now have a second career as a bare-knuckle fighter.
VanZant was unhappy with the decision and stormed out of the ring. Where she ends up next is anyone’s guess.