The idea of competing in bare-knuckle boxing was “kind of nuts” to Rachael Ostovich at first, so initially she wasn’t interested in signing with Bare Knuckle FC. But then she saw Britain Hart defeat Paige VanZant at “BKFC: KnuckleMania,” and that’s when Ostovich knew she had to try it.

She specifically wanted a shot at VanZant, who submitted Ostovich in mixed martial arts at UFC Fight Night 143 in January 2019.

“I was like, ‘I can do this. I know I can beat her,’” Ostovich recently told MMA Junkie Radio. “But it was just committing myself and going through with this process of bare-knuckle.”

Ostovich did just that and came away victorious with a split decision over VanZant this past July at BKFC 19. The experience was physically as brutal as Ostovich expected it to be for her first fist fight without gloves.

Emotionally, the result also felt very good.

“It was real sweet, I’m not gonna lie,” Ostovich said. “I wanted to fight Paige. That was the whole reason why I went to BKFC. … There was no way I was gonna lose, and I came out victorious. It felt so nice not just getting that win back, but getting a win period.”

So what about a trilogy?

The fight between Ostovich and VanZant garnered a lot of attention for both fighters, as well as the promotion. And for Ostovich, she said she made more money from BKFC than she ever did from the UFC – a common refrain from fighters who explore their options after leaving the promotion.

It would figure to make sense that Ostovich and VanZant run it back a third time, but that might not be in the cards.

“I don’t think that we’re gonna go there again. I don’t think she wants to fight,” Ostovich said.

But don’t get it twisted: Ostovich isn’t suggesting that VanZant is scared. And that’s because things are kosher between the two women.

“After the fight, she texted me and said, ‘Let’s be cool. Let’s be friends.’ And I was like, ‘Shoot, I thought we were,’” Ostovich said with a laugh, adding that they were supposed to do a photoshoot together. “But, no, we’re cool. Like I said, if the money’s right, I’m down. Me and Paige, I’m so grateful for her because I know me and her are good foils for each other, and we helped each other’s careers. She helped mine, I’m sure I helped her, and yeah. Who knows? …

“I know that’s not the end of me and her, whether it’s fighting or whatever. We definitely have a lot of respect for each other.”


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