With an impressive 3-0 start to his professional combat sports career, Jarod "Kid Gatti" Grant has become one of the most exciting young prospects on the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship roster.
With three finishes in three attempts, Grant has taken BKFC's 135-pound division by the horns. Because of his fast rise through the promotion's rankings, BKFC matchmaker Nate Shook has lined Grant up against a true test in one of the promotion's most utilized veterans, Travis "The Animal" Thompson.
Grant and Thompson will throw down as part of the promotion's BKFC 18 fight card which takes place at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida on June 26. The pairing matches fighters who are both sitting in the number three ranking position according to Combat Insiders' latest rankings on Knucklepedia (not an official ranking system managed by BKFC or Police Gazette).
"I believe I have better skills than him," Grant said of his upcoming opponent in Thompson.
"I have better boxing. I fight better than him. I'm not gonna sit here and take Travis lightly but I'm going into this confident knowing his skills and my skills. They're not the same. I'm gonna go in there and dominate him. I believe I'm going to get him out of there in the third or fourth round. I'm definitely going for the KO. I don't plan on making it go five rounds. But, if it does go five rounds, Travis' face is going to be pretty messed up. I'm going into that ring to knock Travis Thompson out and to make it a blood bath. I'm not going in there to play with him."
Grant says that his anger towards Thompson stems from a series of posts on social media that spiraled out of control.
"I said on an Instagram post that I wanted Travis Thompson next," Grant recalled. "Then he started saying, 'I'll knock you the F out,' and 'you suck.' This is just all stuff that he is going to have to back up when he sees me on June 26."
Thompson, one of the first fighters to compete in a legally sanctioned bare knuckle bout, currently has six fights under his belt with Bare Knuckle FC. That experience however, does not impress Grant.
"If anything Chris Johnson (one of Grant's former opponents) was younger and had like 40 professional fights so I don't see Travis as being my hardest opponent.," Grant said. "Yeah, he is durable but I know I can get him out of there quickly. I don't think he's ever been hit by someone like me. I'm one of the hardest hitting 135-pounders in the division right now. I'm 3-0 with 3 knockouts. I don't think he is going to be able to take my power."
In his latest win, Grant dismantled bare knuckle newcomer Brandon Lambert in the third round at BKFC: KnuckleMania. Lambert protested the stoppage but the ruling was awarded to Grant who remained undefeated with the victory.
"I don't believe that was a good matchup. It didn't benefit me in any way," Grant said of the win over Lambert. "They threw his name out there and said he really wanted to fight me. They tell me who to fight and I just take it. I don't choose my opponents. That was all him. I actually was the one who asked for Travis Thompson early on in my career because everyone says he is the biggest test. Reggie Barnett Jr. said we could probably fight for the title if I get past Thompson, so I said, 'let me get this out of the way.' I'm gonna fight this 'Animal' and knock him out and show everyone that I'm the real threat at 135-pounds."
While Grant isn't looking past Thompson, he is looking forward to one day meeting Barnett for the title.
Dat Nguyen currently holds the promotion's title at 135-pounds but thus far has refused to accept a fight offer against Barnett. Nguyen recently claimed the gold by defeating then champion Johnny Bedford, who previously recorded a win over Barnett. Despite Barnett's loss, Reggie climbed back up the ladder to earn a spot as the number one contender but Dat Nguyen is not having it due to Barnett's loss to Bedford. In Nguyen's mind, he beat Bedford, who beat Barnett, so he should easily beat Barnett.
"I don't think Dat Nguyen is going to fight Reggie," Grant said. "I think Dat vacates the title, I knock Travis out, and then me and Reggie go fight for the title. After I beat Travis, I'll be next in line for a title."
More on BKFC 18
In the heavyweight division, BKFC World Champion ‘The Mexicutioner’ Joey Beltran, (4-1-1, 2 KOs), fighting out of Carlsbad, CA will make the second defense of his title against Sam ‘The Hillbilly Hammer’ Shewmaker, (4-1-1, 3 KOs), of Gravois Mills, MO. Beltran returns to action in the squared circle following a fourth round knockout of Marcel Stamps at BKFC-13 in Salina, KS while Shewmaker made a lasting impression with the BKFC faithful stopping veteran Bobo O’Bannon in the first round on December 11, 2020 at BKFC-15 in Biloxi, MS.
Competing for the vacant BKFC Cruiserweight World Title, South Florida fan favorite, Hector ‘Showeather’ Lombard, (2-0, 1 KO), of Miami, FL clashes with ‘Diesel’ Joe Riggs, (3-0-1), fighting out of Phoenix, AZ. Lombard earned his entry into the world title fight with a first-round stoppage of Kendall Grove on September 11, 2020 in Daytona Beach, FL. Riggs seeks worldwide glory against Lombard and looks to stay undefeated following a hotly contested draw at BKFC-6 against Walber Barros.
In the featherweight division, Miami warrior Luis ‘Baboon’ Palomino, (3-0, 2 KOs), faces Great Britain villain and the country’s bare-knuckle champion, Tyler ‘The Tornado’ Goodjohn, (1-0) for the BKFC World Title. With bad blood stemming from an in-ring altercation between the two after Palomino stopped Jim Alers at BKFC-14 in Miami, BKFC fans have anticipated this confrontation for the last eight months. In an outstanding all-action battle, Goodjohn made his triumphant US debut with a unanimous decision over Charles Bennett on December 11, 2020 at BKFC-15 in Biloxi, MS.
Two of South Florida’s most in-demand fighters, Thiago ‘The Pitbull’ Alves, (1-0), of Coconut Creek, FL and ‘The Monster’, Uly ‘3 Seconds’ Diaz, (2-0, 2KOs), of Miami, FL will battle for the vacant BKFC Middleweight World Title. Alves made his successful BKFC debut in the main event on September 11, 2020 at BKFC-12 taking a hard-fought decision over Julian Lane. Diaz’s one-punch knockout of Donelei Benedetto on November 13, 2020 at BKFC-14 became an international viral sensation as the fastest stoppage in combat sports history taking only three seconds.