Grove ready for bare knuckle fight Friday in Florida


Kendall Grove had just arrived in Daytona Beach, Fla., and finished a run on Tuesday in preparation for his Friday bout against Hector Lombard.

He was out of breath, but ready to roll for the 46th bout of his professional career, this time in Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 12.

At 37 with a lifetime record of 25-20, including 1-1 in BKFC bouts, the Baldwin High School graduate knows each time he steps in the cage or ring could be his last.

Lombard, a native of Cuba, is 42 and sports a lifetime record of 34-10-1.

“He’s good, he’s a Bellator undefeated middleweight champ, he’s an Olympic judoka guy, so he’s tough and he’s one of the best in the world,” Grove said. “So, stoked to be fighting him.”

The bout between the two mixed martial arts veterans is the co-main event on Friday’s fight card, which was recently moved up a week. Grove said his training camp has been nine weeks long, with the last six weeks of intensive training, all on Maui at his I & I Academy gym in Wailuku.

Grove credited veteran Valley Isle boxing trainer Donavin Moleta for helping him prepare. Grove is 6-foot-6 and has a reach advantage over the 5-10 Lombard, 79 inches to 71. Both are listed at 185 pounds.

“Working hard, you know, I mean obviously he’s a beast, kind of gotta work hard to even stay afloat with a guy like that,” Grove said. “If I didn’t come in prepared then I’m going to get smashed. We’re going to find out, but I feel I trained hard, I put in the time, I put in the hours on the bag, sparring and whatever I had to do. So, feel good, feel great.”

Grove has been a headliner in the BKFC since its inception in 2018.

“I like it, it’s an opportunity, it gives different avenues for fighters to make a living,” Grove said. “So, yeah, I like it and it’s fun.”

He beat Bruce Abramski by unanimous decision in BKFC 2 and lost the Marcell Stamps in a third-round knockout in BKFC 3.

Grove said those two bouts two years ago will help against Lombard.

“Tremendously, it’s the experience just on more knowledge on how to throw a punch, more knowledge on how to take a punch, just everything you do in there,” he said. “It’s completely different than boxing because you’ve kind of got to watch your hands – your hands will break if you hit the wrong spot.”

Friday’s main card starts at 3 p.m. HST and is available only on the Bare Knuckle TV app.

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@ mauinews.com


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