Looking back on combat sports in 2018, there’s no doubt it has been an unquestionably interesting year. From new promotions, monumental trades, BKFC (Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship) takes a look back on a historical year for the company.
At first, bringing bare knuckle combat as a sanctioned sport back to America was just a thought, but now, 10 years later, a simple thought has turned into reality. In a world where combat sports continue to grow each year, bare knuckle brought negative criticism beyond belief. After the announced Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship event, the first show was a true do or die situation for the company. Following the promotional debut of BKB in the US, it was clear a new, old sport was born once again.
On June 2nd, 2018, BKFC President, David Feldman was successfully able to obtain a fully sanctioned BKB (bare knuckle boxing) fight/event in the state of Wyoming, located in the United States. What would spark the interest of millions around the world, the reintroduced form of combat sports would continue its growth, leading to two more events before the year’s end, and the announcement of the promotions international venture early into 2019.
As the current year wraps up, we look back on the first three events of the promotions beginnings. From a heavyweight tournament, to crowning Bec Rawlings the women’s BKFC champion. This is 2018 in review.
Bare Knuckle FC 1: Rumsey vs. Rodriguez
Live from Cheyenne, Wyoming, Bare Knuckle FC would make their promotional debut on June 2nd, in which would be the start of a $50,000 Heavyweight tournament, also feature the blood bath between Joey Beltran and Tony Lopez, and the first sanctioned women’s bare knuckle boxing match. This is very important, as Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote and be voted for. With loads of criticism heading into the inaugural event, Bec Rawling and her opponent, Alma Garcia would silence those critics and make combat history.
Estevan Payan, who is a Strikeforce, WSOF, Bellator and UFC vet (the list goes on) would also make history for the company, being the first person to knock out his opponent. In what would only take 1:57 of the first round, early on in the fight card, Payan would continue to set the pace for the action packed PPV.
Ultimately, the show was a great success. Showcasing a newly legalized combat sport, especially bare knuckle was anything but easy, but the wide audience drawn in would solidify future plans for the company. VICE would attend the event, and produce a nearly 36-minute story on the companies first show, titled: America’s First Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship. The documentary style video is currently sitting at 1.2 million views and counting. A new era for the sport of combat is here.
- Ricco Rodriguez def. Lewis Rumsey via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 48-47)
- Joey Beltran def. Tony Lopez via unanimous decision (49-45, 49-45, 49-46)
- Bec Rawlings def. Alma Garcia via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) – Round 2, 2:00
- Sam Shewmaker def. Eric Prindle via knockout – Round 1, 0:18
- Bobby Gunn def. Irineu Beato Costa Jr. via knockout – Round 1, 0:41
- Johnny Bedford def. Nick Mamalis via TKO – Round 2, 1:41
- Reggie Barnett def. Travis Thompson via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
- Maurice Jackson def. Dale Sopi via TKO – Round 1, 1:10
- Estevan Payan def. Omar Avelar via knockout – Round 1, 1:57
- Arnold Adams def. D.J. Linderman via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) – Round 2, 2:00
Bare Knuckle FC 2: Rawlings vs. Hart
After a successful first show, and even greater success for former UFC competitor, Bec Rawlings, she would now headline the promotions second event on August 25th, facing off against Britain Hart for the Police Gazette Bare-Knuckle Championship. In what was a back and forth main-event, Rawlings would walk away the champion, crowning her the first ever women’s BKFC title holder.
For the heavyweights, only four remained in the $50,000 tournament. Joey Beltran, who is also a UFC and Bellator vet would square off against Arnold Adams. Sam Shewmaker, after his devastating knockout of Eric Prindle would meet Maurice Jackson in the semi-finals. This would set the stage for the third and final event of 2018, where both winners would compete against one another to be crowned the heavyweight and tournament champion.
Due to a doctor stoppage, Arnold Adams would walk away the victor against Beltran, and the fan favorite, Shewmaker would also get himself the win by split decision. The finals were set, and on October 20th, 2018, the two would “toe the line”, with gold in arms reach.
Chris Lytle and Kendal Grove would also make their bare knuckle debuts, both victorious in their first outings.
- Bec Rawlings def. Britain Hart via split decision (Flyweight Championship)
- Chris Lytle def. Drew Lipton via KO at 1:18, Rd. 1
- Sam Shewmaker def. Maurice Jackson via split decision
- Arnold Adams def. Joey Beltran via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) at :09, Rd. 4
- Kendall Grove def. Bruce Abramski via unanimous decision
- Michael McDonald def. Charles Bennett via TKO at 1:49, Rd. 4
- Jamie Campbell def. Dale Sopi via unanimous decision
- Reggie Barnett Jr. def. James Clayton Burns via unanimous decision
Bare Knuckle FC 3: Shewmaker vs. Adams
On October 20th, 2018, the time had finally come, a tournament winner was to be crowned champion in Biloxi, MS at Bare Knuckle FC 3, the promotions final event of the year.
An underdog heading into his fight, Arnold Adams was confident he would walk away the first ever heavyweight BKFC champion. Sam Shewmaker, the clear cut fan favorite was also ready for action. Known by most for his punching power leading into his first and second bare knuckle bouts, Adams would truly put that to the test, as both would head to the judge’s decision in their finals match up. In the end, there could only be one winner of the $50,000 and Police Gazette championship title. By split decision victory, defying all odds, Arnold Adam would be crowned the heavyweight king.
In the co-main event, Marcel Stamps, who more recently was victorious in Bellator MMA would face off against former UFC talent, Kendall Grove. In a very successful debut, Stamps would KO Grove in what was the third and their final around of action.
Joe Riggs, Christine Ferea and others would also make noise, triumphant in their promotional debuts.
- Sam Shewmaker vs. Arnold Adams — Adams def. Shewmaker by Split Decision (Heavyweight Championship)
- Kendall Grove vs. Marcel Stamps — Stamps def. Grove by KO at 0:47 of Round 3
- Johnny Bedford vs. Matt Murphy — Bedford def. Murphy by Unanimous Decision
- Dillard Pegg vs. Rusty Crowder — Crowder def. Pegg by TKO at 0:33 of Round 2
- Joe Riggs vs. Brock Weaver — Riggs def. Weaver by Unanimous Decision
- Abdiel Velazquez vs. Shawn West — Velazquez def. West by TKO at 1:16 of Round 1
- Christine Ferea vs. Jennifer Tate — Ferea def. Tate by TKO at 1:55 of Round 1
- Harris Stephenson vs. Elvin Britto —Britto def. Stephenson by KO at 0:06 of Round 5
- Aaron Brink vs. Mike Bissett — Bissett def. Brink by TKO at 1:21 of Round 1
As 2018 comes to a close, this is certainly not the end of Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, as the promotion is going international for BKFC 4 in Cancun, Mexico on February 2nd, 2019. USA vs. Mexico will feature Julian Lane vs. Leonard Garcia, Chris Lytle, Joe Riggs, the highly anticipated rematch between Tony Lopez and Joey Beltran, and Bec Rawlings will put her title on the line against Cecilia Ullda Flores, all live on PPV and FITE TV.
One of the greatest stories of 2018, BKFC pushed the boundaries, defied all odds, and it’s only forward from here.
Up next, 2019.