Johnny Bedford, Former UFC Fighter and Two-Division BKFC Champion, Retires From Combat Sports

Johnny Bedford appeared on The Ultimate Fighter before finding success with the BKFC, winning world titles in two separate divisions

Johnny Bedford
Courtesy of @bareknucklefc on Twitter

Former UFC competitor and two-division BKFC champion Johnny Bedford has decided to hang up his gloves after more than 15 years in combat sports.

Bedford officially announced his retirement on Wednesday during the BKFC Holiday Giveaway podcast alongside Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship founder Dave Feldman.

“I ultimately had to make that hard-ass decision that I know that I can’t be ready to fight at the highest level,” Bedford said. “I’m not waking up at 6 a.m. to go running and it’s 30 degrees and I’m miserable. When I was 30, that excited me. It doesn’t excite me anymore. I don’t want to blabber forever, but I’ve justified it to myself and the people closest to me.”

Making his professional MMA debut in 2006, Bedford is likely most recognized for his role on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Bisping vs. Team Miller in 2011. Bedford earned wins in the preliminary and quarter-final rounds before falling to the eventual season winner, John Dodson. Bedford competed under the UFC banner from 2012-2014 before being released by the promotion. He returned to the regional circuit, competing for XFC and LFA before signing with BKFC in 2018.

Johnny Bedford’s Greatest Success Came Under the BKFC Banner

It was in BKFC that Johnny Bedford saw his greatest success, going 6-1 inside the squared circle and capturing both the BKFC lightweight and bantamweight world championships. His success under the bare-knuckle promotion has given Bedford the financial stability he needed to finally walk away from the fight game. 

“I don’t have to fight just buy diapers and pay rent and do whatever it took,” Bedford said. “I used to fight, sh*t, twice a month just to pay bills. Because of bare-knuckle and because of smart decisions I’ve made with my money from bare-knuckle, I’m finally in a position where, wow. I don’t have to do this anymore. It was probably the hardest decision I’ve made.”

BKFC president Dave Feldman commended Bedford for knowing that it was time to walk away from the sport. 

“I take my hat off for you, especially for everything you’ve done,” Feldman told Bedford. “But really for recognizing you weren’t going to be able to give us, yourself, or the fans 100 percent. That’s something that a lot of fighters can’t do. A lot of fighters need to be saved from themself. You didn’t have to be. I thank you for that. I thank you for not short-changing yourself, BKFC, or the fans” (h/t MMA Junkie)

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