Action was fast and furious in the Rio Rancho Events Center, although by night’s end, only two of 11 bouts went the distance: five 2-minute rounds. (Herron photo)



“I’m walking out with the belt, plain and simple,” Taylor “Killa Bee” Starling told the BKFC network, namely people tuned in to watch the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 28 on Aug. 27 — “a stellar card in front of a massive crowd at the Rio Rancho Events Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.”

The enthusiastic crowd, with a handful of Duke City pugilists on the card, was estimated to be about 3,000. BKFC President David Feldman said, based on the response, he said there might be two or three more BKFC events here in 2023.

And Starling walked out, all right – maybe even stumbled a bit – after finding out just how tough the women’s flyweight champion, Christine Ferea, really was. Thus, it was Ferea (6-1) strolling out of the Events Center with that belt, which took 30 seconds or less to retain her title.

Starling with blistering right-hand shots from the opening bell, Ferea recorded a knockdown in the opening minute, and after a barrage of power shots to Starling, referee Dan Miragliotta called a halt to the onslaught.

Prior to that fight, which concluded the evening’s 11-bout card, and in order:

  • Jeremy Salceda, (1-0), stopped Roderick Stewart, (0-1), at 1:38 of the second round in a middleweight pairing.
  • In BKFC’s first ever women’s atomweight fight, Jayme Hinshaw (1-0) proved too much for veteran Cassie Robb (0-3), with a first-round stoppage (1:18).
  • Watson, (1-1) showed no mercy in walloping Kyle McElroy, (0-3), at 1:24 of the first round. McElroy managed to get up from a knockdown, but Watson’s relentless attack brought a halt to the action.
  • Josh Moreno, (1-0) stopped Zion Tomlinson Sr. (2-3) midway through the second round, as the referee deemed Tomlinson unable to continue in the middleweight bout.
  • Tony ‘Loco’ Soto, (3-0) made good on his brash talk at the weigh-in stopping Joshua Morales, (0-1), in the third round (1:49) of their lightweight clash.
  • In the featherweight division, Eric Dodson (1-0) needed only 23 seconds to dispose of Nick Villar (0-3-1), dropping him to the canvas with two big right hands.
  • In the middleweight division, southpaw Will Santiago (1-0) knocked down Jake Young (1-1) four times in the first round with massive left-handed shots; Young did not come out for the second stanza.
  • In the middleweight division, Jeremy ‘Pitbull’ Smith (2-0) dominated over five rounds against hometown favorite Donald Sanchez (0-1). Scores at the end of the fight were unanimous for Smith, 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46.
  • In the feature fight of the evening, Mississippi’s’ Brad “‘Machine Gun” Kelly (3-1) proved to be too strong and heavy-handed for Albuquerque’s Isaac Valle-Flagg (3-2). After a dominant opening round, Kelly stalked and battered Valle-Flagg, who attempted to work inside. However, Kelly used a solid jab and big left hooks to continue scoring. Scores after five rounds of welterweight action were 50-44 on all three judges’ scorecards (plus the Observer’s) for Kelly.
  • Another hometown favorite, John “The Magician” Dodson (1-0) wasted no-time against Ryan Benoit (0-1) of Dallas, with two knockdowns in the first round. Using his superior hand and better foot speed, Dodson overwhelmed Benoit, bleeding badly as the bout was stopped at the :40 mark of the opening stanza in their bantamweight fight.

That gave the Dodson brothers victories in a combined 63 seconds of action.