BKFC champion Britain Hart faces plenty of challenges in her bare-knuckle fighting career, but her next obstacle might be the toughest.
On Friday, Hart returns to her hometown of Salem, Va., where she defends her strawweight title against Melanie Shah in the main event. Just over one month later, she already has scheduled her next fight when she faces Po Denman on a BKFC card in Thailand, which takes place Nov. 4.
While Hart isn’t the first to book back-to-back matchups, she might be the only champion defending her title in an incredibly short time span.
“That’s how I presented it to some people to put them in the loop — I started out with, ‘I know this is a bad idea,’” Hart told MMA Fighting. “I know I can do it. I know I can do the impossible hard things. I believe I’m really chasing this legacy, this moment and this opportunity to be legendary.
“I feel like I’ve had brief little moments, but I still feel like people are wondering exactly who I am. I don’t feel like everybody knows exactly who I am. I feel like when I die, I want to leave that clear impression on who is Britain Hart, and that’s me. I do hard, impossible things.”
According to Hart, the opportunity to defend her title twice in four weeks just came down to timing and opportunity. She had asked BKFC to return sooner than later after fighting in March.
While waiting, she started working a new job as an electrician. But then out of nowhere, BKFC called with an offer for September. Then the promotion surprised her with another fight.
“I got the Virginia fight, and it was cool, I was kind of begging for it,” Hart explained. “Once I got that fight, they’re like, ‘Yeah, we’ve got great news, we’re sending you to Thailand.’
“I was like, ‘Oh cool, when?’ They said, ‘Nov. 4.’ I’m like, ‘What?’
“Here I am just begging to f****** fight, and they said they were going to put me on the New Mexico card [in August], and they said, ‘No, we’re going to put you on the Miami card.’ Then they said, ‘No, we’re going to put you on the Virginia card.’ I just want to fight. I just want to get in there and fight, which is why I got an electrician job in the first place. Because I’ve got to do something. Then the hit me with that fight [in Virginia] and then Thailand in five weeks. I’m like you know what? I’m going to do it.”
Despite her championship reign and participation in some of the highest-profile fights for women in BKFC — including wins over UFC veterans Paige VanZant and Bec Rawlings — Hart feels like she still has so much more to accomplish. Fighting twice in such a short period of time will put any fighter in rarified air, but doing that as a champion seems almost impossible.
“It’s unheard of to take fights back-to-back,” Hart said. “Champs don’t do it. But I do it because I’m Britain Hart, and I’m going to take my belt over to a different country, and I’m going to come back with it. That’s just what I’ve decided to do, and I’m going to do it.”
Of course, Hart can’t think too much about Thailand until she gets through the title fight on Friday. The matchup serves as a homecoming; she will compete at an arena just minutes away from where she worked previously worked as a clerk at a grocery store, a bartender, and even in a tree removal service in the same neighborhood.
Now, she’s headlining a bare-knuckle fighting event with her name on the marquee.
“To come full circle from doing those jobs to being the main event and as a female in one of the fastest growing combat sports, it’s really beautiful,” Hart said. “I’ve changed my whole life around, and I’m doing it in a place where I was struggling and trying to survive, and now I’m on the top of the mountain.”
“I haven’t mentioned [the fight in Thailand] whatsoever, because I don’t want to jinx it. I haven’t even really done paperwork, any conversations to the Thailand fight, because I want to focus on the Virginia fight, and I think I’ll be rewarded in the end. Really, I’m just first and foremost about the Virginia fight. After that fight happens, we’ll go back to work. For now, the start and the finish is Sept. 29.”