Revolutionizing combat sports: Nick Chapman’s incredible journey in Bare-Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC)

PHOTO: Nick Chapman

In the electrifying arena of combat sports, where grit, strategy, and passion collide, few stories resonate as deeply as that of Nick Chapman, the CEO of Bare-Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) Asia. From his fearless foray as a fighter to his role as a referee and promoter, Chapman’s journey through bare-knuckle fighting has been nothing short of extraordinary. He climbed high, aimed for new things, and had a strong vision. This shows how strong willpower and true passion can really make a difference. He sure knows how to pack a punch.

Confronting his demons and turning them into his superpower

Nick Chapman’s path was not without its obstacles. School was a battlefield of its own, where the struggle with dyslexia marked him as different. “I absolutely hated everything about it,” he confesses. Dyslexia was labelled a “learning disability,” a term that stung and hindered his self-esteem. Despite the challenges, he persevered, driven by a desire to prove his worth.

In a twist of fate, what seemed like a hindrance turned into a superpower. Chapman’s journey had taught him to overcome adversity to conquer challenges that many couldn’t fathom. Dyslexia, once a source of frustration, became a source of strength. It was a turning point that fueled his unyielding determination to prove his capabilities to himself and the world.

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Fearless beginnings

Revolutionizing combat sports: Nick Chapman's incredible journey in Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC)
PHOTO: Nick Chapman

Chapman’s story begins with an irrepressible anger burning deep within him. He describes it as uncontrollable, a primal force that demanded an outlet. From a young age, he found himself drawn to fighting, a natural inclination that he couldn’t ignore. Looking back at his early days, he remembers, “I can’t explain to anyone this anger I had inside of me was uncontrollable. And I was fearless, completely fearless. I’d fight grown men, didn’t care.” This fearlessness, this unyielding spirit, set the stage for what would become his life’s calling.

His encounter with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) marked a turning point that would change his life’s direction. Watching the UFC’s first major event, where fighters engaged in intense, raw combat without gloves and even used headbutts, stirred something deep within him. The sheer energy of the fights resonated with him on a profound level.

Fuelled by his newfound revelation, Chapman declared his intention to partake in the world of mixed martial arts (MMA) to his friends. They all laughed, saying he couldn’t. But Chapman wasn’t discouraged; he just said, “Watch me!”

Through his journey in MMA, something profound happened to Chapman – it was like he went through a big change, not just physically but in every way. The strict routines, the respect he learned at the gym, and the changes he made to his lifestyle all came together to transform him for the better.

The birth of a new era

The journey of BKFC Thailand began with a pivotal phone call from a friend named John. He invited Chapman to witness an event in Phuket. This event showcased a rule set similar to BKFC, piquing Chapman’s curiosity and planting the seed for what would become BKFC Thailand.

BKFC’s distinctiveness lies in its departure from conventional combat sports. Instead of padded gloves, it embraces bare-knuckle action. Chapman’s intrigue grew as he observed the intense fights that unfolded before him. He reminisced about the nostalgia and excitement of an era when gloves were absent and fighters relied solely on their fists.

Thailand as the perfect canvas for unconventional combat

For Chapman, Thailand held a special allure due to its deep-rooted appreciation for combat sports, particularly Muay Thai. He saw an opportunity to introduce BKFC to a country where the art of punching and kicking is deeply ingrained in the culture. Chapman recognized Thailand’s unique enthusiasm for combat, making it an ideal setting for BKFC’s unique intensity.

Chapman’s motivation went beyond financial interests. He aimed to provide a fresh and thrilling avenue for combat sports enthusiasts. BKFC represented a chance to offer something authentic, a unique blend of skill, strategy, and raw power that could captivate a diverse audience seeking a different kind of intensity.

Addressing concerns about brutality

Revolutionizing combat sports: Nick Chapman's incredible journey in Bare-Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: Nick Chapman

Chapman speaks of a world in need of something new, something that could capture the essence of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and boxing but with a distinct flavour. “Everybody loves MMA, everyone loves boxing,” he reflects, “but the world needed something new.”

Chapman’s vision materialized in the form of a new rule set. It was a formula crafted to deliver fast-paced action, exhilarating knockouts, and, most crucially, a focus on minimizing serious brain damage. He immersed himself in the study of this rule set. Thus, ensuring he was not just a participant but a referee who understood every nuance of the game.

Critics questioned the potential brutality of BKFC, expressing concerns about its violence and the risks involved. Chapman’s response was pragmatic – he believed in choice. He maintained that individuals should be free to decide whether to engage with BKFC or not, similar to how people choose their entertainment preferences. Chapman also highlighted scientific data that suggested BKFC could be safer for fighters’ brains compared to gloved boxing, dispelling misconceptions about the sport’s potential for long-term brain damage.

Partnership and growth

Despite scepticism, Chapman persisted in his vision. With the support of sponsors like Sing Corporation and Bitcover, BKFC Thailand gained recognition and approval from state-affiliated commissions in the United States. The rigorous efforts of Chapman and his team led to the acceptance of BKFC as a legitimate and regulated combat sport.

As BKFC Thailand gains momentum, Chapman remains resolute in his advocacy. Major fighters like Buakaw Banchamek and Saenchai are set to take the BKFC Thailand stage, propelling the sport to new heights. Chapman envisions a future where BKFC is not only accepted but celebrated, revolutionizing the combat sports landscape in Thailand and beyond.

Working with diverse personalities of fighters

Nick Chapman’s background in combat sports is extensive, with a career spanning over 20 years across various roles in the industry. From being a fighter to a gym owner, manager, and official, Chapman has a deep-rooted love for combat sports. He reveals, “I love Combat Sports. I love everything about it. The only thing I don’t like about Combat Sports is the fighters.” This surprising statement hints at the challenges he faces as a promoter and manager of fighters.

Managing fighters from various countries with diverse backgrounds and personalities is a task that requires both empathy and practicality. Chapman’s experience with different fighters has given him unique insights into their psyche. He recognizes the disparity in behaviour between fighters of different nationalities. Fighters from Thailand and the Philippines exhibit strong discipline and respect, while those from Western countries often struggle with entitlement.

He highlights the need for fighters to balance their in-ring skills with their business acumen. Fighters need to recognize that being successful in the combat sports industry involves more than winning fights. Managing their public image, dealing with media, and engaging with fans also play a big part.

Striking the perfect fighter persona

Revolutionizing combat sports: Nick Chapman's incredible journey in Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC)
PHOTO: Nick Chapman

Chapman emphasizes the role of show business in combat sports. He draws attention to the need for fighters to be authentic and genuine in building their personal brands. While showmanship is essential, it must be an extension of the fighter’s true personality. Attempting to imitate someone else, like Conor McGregor, without a genuine connection to the persona often backfires and alienates both fans and the media.

The challenges of show business in combat sports extend beyond the ring. Chapman discusses how fighters must also learn to manage media, handle interviews, and engage with fans effectively. In today’s digital age, social media is a powerful tool that fighters can leverage to connect with their audience and grow their brand.

The economics of combat sports promotion

Chapman provides valuable insights into the economics of promoting combat sports events. One of BKFC’s standout features is its exclusive streaming platform – a departure from conventional television partnerships. Chapman elucidates that this decision was rooted in the desire to maintain complete control over content delivery. By offering fights exclusively on the BKFC app, the organization ensures a tailored and engaging experience for its audience. This strategic move aligns with the digital era. Moreover, it also empowers BKFC to gather valuable user feedback for continuous improvement.

He also outlines diverse revenue streams that allow BKFC to sustain its financial viability. These include app subscriptions, sponsorships, ticket sales, merchandise, endorsements and alcohol sales during events. However, he emphasizes that for each event to be successful, it must generate enough revenue to cover costs and make a profit. This requires careful balancing of various factors, including match-ups, ticket pricing, and marketing efforts.

Future vision: Expanding the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship

As BKFC continues to grow, Chapman has a vision to expand its influence in Asia, particularly in Thailand. He unveils an exclusive insight into a new venture – “bare-knuckle Muay Thai.” The goal is to showcase the power and significance of Muay Thai to the world through BKFC’s platform. Chapman aims to package Muay Thai for a global audience and create an ongoing organization for bare-knuckle Muay Thai events, much like BKFC.

Chapman’s advice to navigate entrepreneurship in Thailand

For aspiring entrepreneurs in Thailand, Chapman offers valuable advice drawn from his own experience. He emphasizes the importance of having a trustworthy Thai business partner who understands the local business landscape, has connections, and is committed to overcoming challenges. Chapman’s success in Thailand has been attributed, in large part, to his exceptional partnership, which has allowed him to focus on his strengths in the combat sports industry.


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