Alan Belcher welcomes bare-knuckle fight with Francis Ngannou: ‘I’m coming to knock you out’



Phil Vespe, BKFC

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, coming back wasn’t about the money. Instead, it was about accomplishing great feats and adding to his legacy in ways that perhaps he didn’t while competing in MMA for nearly 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. “So I’m taking it very seriously. This is part of my life’s work. 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 has already amassed a couple of highlight-reel knockouts in the BKFC ring, but becoming the heavyweight champion would be the perfect cherry on top to his bare-knuckle career thus far.

Belcher still has lofty ambitions in BKFC and in boxing. One name in particular that interests him is former UFC champion Francis Ngannou, who is currently a free agent after leaving the promotion following his last 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. It’s the attention and the publicity and the money that fighters want. 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. But after that I really went to work, and now that I’ve got my feet wet, I’ve got my confidence, and what I’ve been working on is really figuring out the science of how to end the fight with the hands really quickly, and if it doesn’t happen very quickly, making sure that I’m winning every, single round by continuing to search for the knockout. A lot of coaches have even told me in the past not to try and knock someone out, and that’s my whole intention 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. But he refuses to back down if that challenge was presented to him.

“If I fight Francis Ngannou, I’m coming to knock you out,” Belcher said. “I believe it 100 percent. There is nothing more powerful than belief. 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! Then before you know it, he’s 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. But Belcher is sending a message loud and clear that he’s more than open to the 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. I’m up for whatever.

“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. There’s a bit to find out there.

“Just because you’re a big, great athlete, UFC champion doesn’t mean you can come into bare-knuckle and knock everyone out. Of course, it gives you a lot of advantages for sure, but I’m ready for that. Right after Arnold Adams, maybe that can be the next fight. Let’s do it.”

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