Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship enthusiasts gathered in Salem, Virginia, for BKFC 51, a spectacle that took place on September 29, 2023. The pivotal bout of the evening featured the Strawweight title showdown between the reigning champion, Britain Hart, and the previously unbeaten (2-0) contender, Melanie Shah. Shah, despite her courageous effort, encountered a brutal five-round battle against the dominant champion, resulting in a unanimous decision loss, along with a lost tooth.
In the aftermath of her face-off with Hart, Shah displayed remarkable resilience and no regrets.
“After the first round, I realized that she was a lot tougher than I was expecting,” Shah revealed in an interview with Bareknucklenewstv. “Although I expected her to be tough, I just expected her to show a bit more tiredness. It didn’t go the way I wanted, but I was still happy that I went all five rounds.”
Shah, while enduring significant facial damage, reflected on her journey. “Even if I don’t look like it, I enjoyed the whole process,” she remarked. “I enjoyed being in the ring and challenging myself. If I could fight Brit again, I think what I’d do is—although I fought the way I like to fight—I’d have backed off a little bit more than maybe I should have. I’d probably try to do other things I wouldn’t normally do.”
Facing the formidable Hart was no easy task for Shah. The reigning champion has solidified her position as a bare-knuckle boxing sensation, securing victories in eight of her last nine matches (8-3 overall). Hart’s remarkable journey includes notable wins over former UFC Flyweights such as Paige VanZant, Bec Rawlings, and Pearl Gonzalez.
While Hart is set to embark on her next challenge against Chisakan Ariphipat in Thailand on November 4, 2023, Shah is expected to take the time necessary to recover before venturing back into the fray.
The sentiment is shared by UFC flyweight Casey O’Neil, who candidly admitted her reluctance to pursue a bare-knuckle path: “😅 I could never do bare knuckle. Big props to those who do but gah damn.”