‘I need to make money’: Bare-knuckle ex-UFC pin-up reveals brutal reality of MMA
A hugely popular female ex-UFC fighter has reflected on the injuries she endured on her bare-knuckle fighting debut and spoken honestly about what the deciding factor will be as she ponders a potential return to MMA.
Former UFC flyweight Rachael Ostovich said she was "almost going broke" during her professional MMA career of more than seven years, which started in her native Hawaii and ended for the time being after she lost by TKO to Gina Mazany in November 2020.
The 30-year-old believes the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, which she debuted for in July with a win against fellow skin-baring favorite Paige VanZant, is "really hot right now".
“I had some injuries after the fight – it’s definitely different from MMA,” tough Ostovich told MMA Junkie about her bow in the notoriously brutal discipline.
"The damage is a lot worse – I've experienced it for myself. I fought in MMA for ten years.
"My hands are busted: I couldn't even punch for two months after the fight. I'm not sure how the other girls fight back-to-back.
"I punch really hard and, with bare knuckle, everyone was like 'don't punch 100 percent, you're going to break your own hand.'
"I was going for broke, I was giving it my all. I usually do – I like to throw it out. That's just the consequences of that.
"I had a bunch of super-tender [areas] all up in [my eye]; my nose – the damage is for real."
Ostovich admitted that she could return to MMA depending on one important factor which is partly driven by the demands of the spot.
"That's why I'm super-heavy on the money part: 'make it worth my time'," she explained.
"I've seen people in danger or even [risk] death. I need to make some money out of it.
"I have a kid, I live in Hawaii – it's one of the most expensive places to live. I got paid better by BKFC than I ever did by MMA."
With more than 822,000 followers on Instagram, Ostovich would not be short of promotional suitors even without her sporting success.
“I’ve had some offers but I’m kind of waiting on the negotiations between my manager and the promotions, so bare knuckle is of interest," she revealed, suggesting that her BKFC exploits are on hold depending on bargaining.
"I'm still down for MMA and there have been offers from MMA but at this point I’m kind of just waiting to see what makes the most money here – so that’s where I’m at.
“They both have their pros and cons, so it really is just money talks for me right now.”
Fighter pay has been the subject of a fierce debate, with some fighters taking aim at UFC president Dana White over what they believe is an undervaluing of athletes.
Before making what appeared to be an acrimonious exit from the UFC in July 2020, VanZant, who has more than three million followers on the social media platform, claimed she made more away from the octagon than she did in her fighting career at the time.
In common with VanZant, Ostovich has organized a site allowing fans to pay a subscription to access exclusive content including photoshoots, as well as running her own beauty line.
“I would return to MMA, just BKFC is really hot right now and they pay me really good, so that’s where I’ll be,” said Ostovich.
“MMA is a lot and I felt like I was almost going broke fighting in MMA, so BKFC is where I’m at for right now and hopefully we can get on the same page."
The former Ultimate Fighter star said she expects to fight again in January or February 2022.