Tom Shoaff’s impressive Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship career comes to a close this week.
In the Co-Main Event of Friday’s BKFC 49 in Miami, the longtime fan-favorite “A Gentleman of Violence” will step into the Squared Circle for the final time against Bryce “Baby Yaga” Henry (2-0, 2 KOs), LIVE on The BKFC App.
“This is the last fight of my contract and recently I had a ‘come-to-Jesus moment’ – quite literally. After being baptized, I decided that I don’t want to fight anymore,” Shoaff says. “I want to put my time and energy into coaching, the church, and taking in the new experience of being a religious human being.”
While Shoaff’s professional life with BKFC has flourished over the years, he’s been burdened by a number of monumental losses in his personal life. The last two years have included the deaths of several close family members and the discovery that he and members of his family have a genetic disorder that predisposes them to cancer.
“Going through hard times, I found myself in a church,” Shoaff says. “Since I’ve been going to church consistently, my life is dramatically better, and I took that as a literal sign from God that that’s where I need to be, and that’s where my focus needs to be.”
“I’m putting ‘A Gentleman of Violence’ to rest, and I’m starting a new chapter.”
Shoaff made his bare knuckle fighting debut all the way back at BKFC 2 in 2018. His resume includes nine fights, and all of his wins have come by stoppage. His most recent contest was a back-and-forth battle with BKFC Pound-for-Pound king Luis Palomino, with the BKFC World Lightweight Championship on the line.
Shoaff hopes to retire on a win, but he knows Henry is an extremely hungry and dangerous competitor. Shoaff knows his own fighting style isn’t conducive to easy victories, so he’s not necessarily expecting a storybook finish to his career in Miami.
“This is a very tough fight for me to end my career on, so I’m just doing my best to follow God’s plan, have faith in God’s plan, and know that regardless of what happens, I’m going to make it out of the situation alive, I’m going to do everything I can to perform well in His honor, and we’ll see what happens," says Shoaff, who enters fight night as the No. 4 contender in the lightweight division.
“I’d love to end my career on a high note and leave the sport as a winner, but sometimes it’s not in your control. We’ll see how it goes.”