Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) returned to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Miss. with a highly anticipated rematch as Mississippi native Jason Knight scored a technical knockout win over Artem Lobov in the main event of BKFC 9. After losing their first contest in April by a narrow decision on the judges’ scorecards, Knight fought a noticeably more disciplined fight in the sequel.
Following his victory, Knight said, “I stayed strategic. I knew exactly what I was supposed to do. I came here (for our) last fight and I was prepared. I was technically sound. I was ready to fight the correct way, but I got hit one time and it all went out the window. I told myself this whole training camp that’s not going to happen again. I’m not going to fight the way that I shouldn’t fight.”
Midway through the second frame, Knight landed a straight right hand flush on the chin of Lobov, dropping Lobov to the canvas. Lobov attempted to make adjustments over the next couple of rounds, switching between orthodox and southpaw to give Knight different looks, but Knight seemingly had all the answers.
In the fifth round, Knight landed a left that sent Lobov to the mat for a second time. With his left eye nearly swollen shut, Lobov’s corner requested the fight be stopped. Referee Bill Clancy waved off the contest :29 in to the fifth round.
On the subject of a potential trilogy bout with Lobov, Knight said, “Of course, if he wants it, I love that guy. He has a lot of respect for me. I’ve got the same respect for him. I love that man. Any time he’s not fighting me, I’m going to be rooting him on. And if he wants to get in here and do this a third time then I’m down.”
“The emotions are very low after a loss, especially a stoppage loss, which hurts,” said Lobov. “It’s double bad for me, but you can’t change it and you just have to accept it and move forward. I don’t really know what else is in store for me. I have to talk to (BKFC founder and president) David Feldman and see what the story is. We’ll see what happens.”
The co-main event showcased Joey Beltran of California and Mississippi native Chase Sherman going the distance in their five-round heavyweight scrap, with Beltran securing a unanimous decision to capture the BKFC Heavyweight Championship, as well as the Police Gazette World Heavyweight Diamond Championship.
In a rock ’em, sock ’em bout that saw both fighters land thunderous blows, Beltran controlled the center of the ring, dictated the pace, backed up Sherman and did enough to earn a hard-fought decision.
An emotional Beltran said, “Honestly, when I think about how many sacrifices I made, how many times I sat there thinking if I should keep going…It was (all) worth it.”
Beltran continued, “First and foremost, this beautiful, shiny belt right here and being recognized as a legitimate world champion is something I can’t put into words. I had a game plan from the beginning. I visualized. I won this fight mentally in a few different ways. I grinded it out. I really wish it would have been a second-round knockout, but I was mentally and physically prepared to grind it out. I’m happy!”
Showing class and honesty in defeat, Sherman said, “I don’t think the judges got it wrong. I’m not going to sit here and complain about the decision not going my way. That falls on my shoulders.
“Hats off to Joey. He came in hard, like I thought he would,” continued Sherman. “I thought that would fade out in the later rounds…but he just kept coming forward. My feet were never cemented in the ground enough to land a really hard shot. I know I clipped him a couple times, but he’s got a hell of a chin. I really think the difference maker was the clinch. When he got me in the clinch, he got busy…”
Sherman concluded, “My legacy that I want to leave has never been about belts. It’s never been about wins and losses. It’s about my character, my grit and my heart, and I hope to show that every time that I step into the ring. I just want to be known as one of the toughest (guys) to ever fight.”
The undercard featured Johnny Bedford of Texas defeating Florida’s Charles Bennett by stoppage. Bennett injured his right hand midway through the second round and Bedford pounced on the opportunity to finish Bennett, landing a right hand that knocked down Bennett in the final moments of round two. Bennett didn’t attempt to continue and referee Wayne Spinola officially stopped the fight at the 2:00 mark of round two.
In women’s BKFC action, Helen Peralta of Iowa knocked down California’s Maia Kahaunaele three times en route to a first-round stoppage win. Following the third knockdown, referee Wayne Spinola ended the contest at the 1:57 mark of the first round.
Kansas’ Kenny Licea scored a technical knockout victory over Mississippi’s Harris Stephenson. Licea scored two knockdowns in the first round, the second one sending Stephenson to the mat face-first. Stephenson managed to get back to his feet for a second time, but with his equilibrium clearly off referee Bill Clancy stopped the bout 1:03 in to round one.
Chris Sarro of Maine knocked out West Virginia’s John McAllister 1:32 in to round one. Sarro landed a counter right hand that sent McAllister sprawling on the canvas and left him unable to continue.
Mississippi native Kaleb Harris knocked out Jeff Chiffens of Delaware. Midway through the second round, Harris landed a left-right combo that dropped Chiffens. Harris followed that up with a sequence of uppercuts and a pair of jabs that knocked down Chiffens again at the close of the second round. Chiffens made it to his feet, but referee Wayne Spinola had seen enough and waved off the contest at the 2:00 mark of the second stanza.
Mississippi’s Adrian Miles and Oregon’s Wes Combs got off to a fast start with Miles knocking down Combs just seconds after the opening bell. After Combs hit the canvas, Miles struck Combs while down. As a result of repeated grounded strikes by Miles, referee Bill Clancy stopped the contest, deeming Combs the winner by disqualification.
The opening bout of the night saw Joe Pegg knockout Mississippi native Adam Pellerano. Pegg landed an overhand right that dropped Pellerano, and after Pellerano appeared unable to continue the referee waved off the fight :46 in to round one.