Ryan Jones will look to improve his professional bare knuckle fighting record to 2-0 when he meets Robert Washington at BKFC 17 at the Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama, live on the BKTV APP, (9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT) in addition to globally on FITE PPV.
Jones, who is coming off a win over Eric Thompson at BKFC 16 last month, feels that he has found comfort in bare knuckle competition as opposed to mixed martial arts where he used to train and compete professionally for approximately five years.
A string of consecutive losses in MMA forced Jones to switch sports, a decision he has no regrets in making.
"I learned that I absolutely love this sport, because there's way more action in it," Jones said after competing in his first bare knuckle bout. "The ability to sit here and throw punches, and be under fire the whole fight. To me, I learned that I'm going to thrive under constant pressure. punches, man."
Jones quickly learned that if he can just focus on his stand up, he would become a better version of the fighter he once was.
"Every one of my losses was to the ground game besides a technical stoppage that was to illegal elbows," Jones said. "So as far as standing and throwing hands, no one's ever beaten me. Not that it can't happen, it just hasn't yet."
"MMA is fun, but it gets boring," Jones continued. "Because if it goes to the ground, a lot of people don't know what they're watching. Everybody knows someone's getting hit. So if I'm standing there getting hands to me, I want to entertain everybody."
A native of Louisiana, Jones's start in bare knuckle began hundreds of miles north at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
"I went to the very first tryouts Philadelphia. Then I started training with Quentin Henry, who was my coach and training partner. And he was pushing for me to get on a card. He said, 'I think you did great at it.' I think he talked to Nate Shook (BKFC matchmaker) Of course, they were kind of reluctant to use me because of my MMA record. So I know, I'm like the big underdog coming into this show. But you know, now that they've given me the opportunity I hope that it was the right decision to put me on there."
Like most fighters, Jones still has to hold down another profession in order to make a living. Working as a contractor for a water company down South, and having sole custody of his daughter, keeps the 33-year-old fighter on his toes.
"I'll pick my daughter up from school and first thing we do is homework," Jones said. "Next thing I know, she wants come train with me. So we're in the gym. She hits the bag and stuff while I'm doing my thing. She actually actually looks up to me and it helps me, teach her how to protect yourself."
When it comes to preparation for the fight on April 30, Jones is doing what he can to prepare but will fully admit that Washington wasn't on his radar.
"Man, I don't have a clue about this guy. I got this last minute fight. I just know that. He's obviously got balls since he's planning to step in there. You gotta have something in you to do that. But I think I think he's gonna be at a bad time to fight me because that last fight, I didn't get to show what I was able to do. I feel like he's just gonna have the catch the wrath of my ability this time."
When asked for a prediction for the fight, Jones hinted that fight fans will be able to tell by his body reaction, how the fight will go.
The reality is, I'll be able to tell a prediction the first time I land a good punch on him. I want to say that if you see me give a thumbs up, he's going down first round. If I don't give a thumbs up, it might take a couple of things."
A win over Washington is the first task on the list of accomplishments that Jones wants to achieve in his tenure with BKFC.
"I'm not getting any younger man," he said. " I'm trying to make the most of this while I can. I want to be able to tell my kid, and my grandkids that 'Hey, I thought this guy.' So the championship belt is definitely my dream. But who doesn't want to fight the big names like the Thiago Alves' or the Hector Lombards'? And just to say they did it? If Chris Lytle wasn't retired, I fight him. I say that with the biggest respect because I'm a big fan. So it's not the memories for me."
While Jones still has plenty of fights ahead of him, one of the coolest and most memorable moments in his career has already taken place. Jones was able to assist his friend and coach in Quentin Henry, prepare for the biggest test of his life, a bare knuckle bout against Chris "The Crippler" Leben earlier this year.
"You don't know how cool that was for me, " Jones said. "Chris Leben is actually the exact fighter that got me into fighting because of his troubled past. I remember watching Ultimate Fighter season one and I related to him. So that's what got me into fighting really, is because I react related to his character. And so, years later, for one of my best friends to be fighting a guy that, you know, was my idol growing up, it was kind of surreal for me."
Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, (BKFC), The World’s Fastest Growing Sport, takes their first bow in Birmingham, AL with BKFC-17 on Friday, April 30, 2021 at the Boutwell Auditorium and live on the BKTV APP, (9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT) in addition to globally on FITE PPV.
Headlining BKFC-17 is a tremendous heavyweight clash between Dillon ‘Bad Boy’ Cleckler, (2-0, 2 KO’s), of Pensacola, FL and Josh ‘The Hammer’ Burns, (1-0, 1 KO), of Dearborn, MI. Co-featured in the Quarter-Finals of the BKFC 175lb. Tournament, Birmingham fan favorite Marcel ‘Swift’ Stamps, (2-1), faces-off against Mike ‘The Marine’ Richman of Rosemount, MN.