In the face of a pandemic, an already criticized sport proved it is here to stay as Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships made their return to action last Friday night in Oxford, Mississippi at the Lafayette Multipurpose Arena just down the road a piece from the University of Mississippi, otherwise, affectionately know as Ole Miss.
While everyone involved from the shuttle drivers to the fighters was ready to get back to work, many hurdles were placed in front of President David Feldman and his team, and if I wasn’t involved in the media and on top of the promotional news, watching the show I would have never known all the obstacles in the path of this event.
For instance, the event was originally supposed to take place in Florida, boom roadblock! Not a bead of sweat formed on Feldman’s brow, not even a little one. He always seems to be ready for issues and moves swiftly to deal with them. Feldman immediately shifted gears and moved the show to Mississipi where the promotion has been before, so the commission was familiar which made the move easier to accomplish.
Some of the fights had multiple opponent changes, but no one felt that more than Chris Sarro who fought Victor Jones, which was the fifth opponent he was scheduled against. Sarro never broke camp or got overly frustrated, he kept his eye on the prize and secured the win at 1:50 of round one with a knockout win against Jones.
The main event took a hit from COVID as the undefeated (4-0) “Bare-Knuckle Beast” Jim Alers withdrew from the title shot against Luis “Baboon” Palomino after his head coach tested positive for the virus. No problem as 3-0 at the time Isaac Valle-Flagg stepped in on short notice to face Palomino for the Inaugural 155-pound title. Palomino came to fight and finished Valle-Flagg at 45 seconds of round 1 with a vicious knockout, and is now the new, and 1st 155-pound champ in promotional history.
Fans! Yes, this event was the first combat sports event since the pandemic, and subsequent lockdown to have fans in attendance. Every precaution was taken to ensure the safety of all in the arena. Every fighter, staff member, officials, and media were tested and all came up negative. I was tested and saw the testing being administered to all. Fans and all in attendance wore masks, and the arena was at 25% capacity.
Island Fights veterans Elvin Brito and Dillon Clecker took home wins as well. Brito needed a win in a big way, and he and his opponent, the highly-touted Kaleb Harris put on what many folks, including me, deemed the fight of the night. In his debut, Dillon “Bad Boy” Cleckler needed a little time to adjust from MMA to bare-knuckle fighting. Once he got a feel for the action he went to work and secured the bag as the kids say, with his KO finish of Frank Tate in the 3rd round of their fight.
During the broadcast, the promotion announced a new broadcast partnership with DAZN. If you remember DAZN came out of the gates with big deals, and big money to high profile boxers, and to Bellator MMA. The addition of BKFC to the stable is going to bring the show to so many more worldwide, and that is the goal. More eyes, more fans, more talent, and of course more money, sounds like a win.
As well as a new broadcast platform BKFC 11 debuted a new production team. The show looked great on the new BKTV app as well as Facebook LIVE, where it streamed for free. The graphics packages and transitions were world-class, and the overall appearance was top notch!
BKFC plans on doing a show a month for the remainder of the year. Has the pandemic not gotten in the way, we would be looking at BKFC 20 by now. If this last event is an indicator of where the company is headed, combat sports fans worldwide are going to be very happy.
Congratulations to David Feldman and his entire team for a job well done! Below are the full BKFC 11 results
- Luis Palomino def. Isaac Vallie-Flagg by KO (punches), Round 1, 0:45 – for the BKFC 155 lb Championship
Dillon Cleckler def. Frank Tate by KO (punches), Round 3, 0:59
Elvin Brito def. Kaleb Harris by split decision (45-50, 48-47, 49-46)
Codie Shuffield def. Herbert Morgan by TKO (punches), Round 2, 1:30
Bobby Taylor def. Louis Hernandez by split decision (48-47, 49-46, 48-47)
Chris Sarro def. Victor Jones by KO (punch), Round 1, 1:50
Joseph Elmore def. Will Chope by KO (punches), Round 1, 0:52
Tee Cummins def. John McAllister by TKO (punch), Round 2, 0:42
Christopher James has been in the MMA industry for 15 years, Working as a ring announcer for promotions like the XFC, Island Fights, Combat Night and Fight Nights Global during his career. Chris’ love for the sport and the athletes that partake in it led him to writing and doing face to face interviews with the athletes he admired and respected. Chris isn’t conventional by any stretch of the imagination, he has his own style, and takes pride in not being a “cookie-cutter” member of the media. Unique and sometimes controversial takes are what he brings to the table, forcing folks to think a little differently about the world of MMA. He also has a love for music as he has been a dj for 25 years and his love for music gets brought to the MMA world when he gets his guests to sing on his weekly show Cage Side with Christopher James which can be seen Wednesday nights on FACEBOOK LIVE, and soon via podcast.