Joey Beltran became the first man to successfully defend the BKFC heavyweight title, knocking out Marcel Stamps in the fourth round of their BKFC 13 main event tonight in Kansas.
Beltran, 38, is now 4-1-1 (3 KO) in bare knuckle, and had to dig down to get this one. Stamps, a 35-year-old former University of Alabama linebacker, had advantages in reach and athleticism, and he showed that off in the first couple of rounds especially.
But Beltran, who is also 18-15 in MMA and has fought in both UFC and Bellator, was just relentless and fearless, and he started finding Stamps some in the third round. The open scoring in Kansas revealed that Stamps was up 29-28, 30-27, and 30-27 after three, but the tide was turning, and Beltran knew it.
The fourth round was a bit of a mess. Beltran was connecting with shots, and then Stamps went down to the canvas claiming he was hit in the back of the head or neck, which replays didn’t seem to show. Once action resumed, Beltran jumped on him and dropped him, and Stamps took quite a while to tell the referee he actually wanted to keep going; he was obviously out of fuel at that point, and kept falling over out of fatigue, the drops ruled slips by the referee. But Beltran put him down again, and that time Stamps took the full 10-count.
“Storm the castle, storm the castle, by all fuckin’ means necessary, storm the castle. That’s what I kept doing,” Beltran said. “It’s one thing to train in the gym and prepare, but it’s a whole other ball of wax when I’m coming at you. I’ve got blood on my face, you can see the white meat on my skull, and I’m coming at you. I gotta think that’s kinda scary.”
Asked what he wants to do next, Beltran said he’d like a rematch with Arnold Adams, who stopped Beltran in a 2018 bare knuckle fight.
“There’s a few guys that pop up in my mind, but I’ll say it now, and I’ve said it since I won the title, but there’s only one I wanna fight, and that’s my man Arnold Adams,” he said. “Out of respect, and out of my own ego that there’s a man walking around that thinks he whipped my ass. I want my get-back.”
“We’ll see what happens with that. If that’s what the crowd wants — look, what we do here is what the fans want,” promoter David Feldman said of the Beltran-Adams rematch idea. “If the fans want to see that fight, Tweet us, get on social media, let us know if you want to see that fight. But I think we have someone flying over the pond that wants that fight, and I think he’s very deserving, as well.”
Nico Hernandez RTD-4 Chancey Wilson
This was the bare knuckle debut for Kansas’ Hernandez, who won a bronze medal for Team USA at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, but whose pro career has been frankly stuck in his home state and gone nowhere since it began in 2017. But he’s 7-0 (4 KO) in pro boxing, and he definitely has skills, which he showed off here.
Wilson, who is 1-4 in MMA, has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of here. He hung in for four rounds with an Olympic bronze medal boxer without getting dropped, and though he was obviously out-classed in boxing skill, he was very game and tried his absolute best. The fight was stopped after the fourth round when Wilson vomited in his corner between rounds, and in the unified rules of MMA — which BKFC follows, other than the obvious rule differences of the actual fighting — that’s an automatic fight-ender.
“I didn’t take him lightly. I just went in there and boxed smart, and came out with the easy win. My face looks pretty good, so I can’t complain,” Hernandez said after the fight. “He was too slow for me and my boxing is too good. We had a little bit of back-and-forth trash talk.”
The two did have a good deal of talking going on, but when it was over, as you can see above, Wilson lifted Hernandez and the two were pleasant enough.
The 24-year-old Hernandez hadn’t had an organized fight since Feb. 2019, when he beat a club fighter in Mulvane, Kan., and he’s said recently he does plan to keep going in pro boxing. He also says he’s a free agent, and in all seriousness, a major promoter should really try to pick him up. He’s not only a good fighter with the obvious amateur pedigree, but he had a fun style even in the amateurs. Flyweight isn’t the biggest division in the U.S., obviously, but it can be done. Not everyone has to headline T-Mobile Arena or MSG to have a good career for a top promoter.
Asked what his bare knuckle plans going forward might be, Hernandez was somewhat non-committal, but he did say he plans to return.
“I really liked this, so we’ll see what (promoter Dave Feldman) talks about for the next fight. But I do plan on coming back and taking over. We’ll see what happens next and kind of play it by ear.”
Dave Rickels UD-5 Clifford Wright
In what was called the night’s “featured bout,” MMA veteran Dave Rickels made his bare knuckle debut against fellow MMA veteran Clifford Wright, dominating the fight but never dropping Wright, who showed a great, learned ability to survive, which he had to utilize in every round.
Scores here were 50-45 on two cards and 50-43 on the third, with Rickels, 31, getting a pair of 10-8 rounds on the latter card, which is fair enough, there were a couple he really dominated. Rickels is tied for most fights in Bellator history at 23, and is 21-6 overall in MMA, he’s had a good MMA career, really solid. Wright is 12-13 in MMA and also fought in Bellator from 2012-14; not on Rickels’ level there, not on Rickels’ level here, but what a tough dude, he took some good shots and held up thanks to a good chin and a lot of savvy.
Rickels is young enough that he really should have some good future in BKFC if he sticks here, which it looks like he will. He could wind up being a pioneering standout, so to speak.
The next big BKFC event will be BKFC 14 on Friday, Nov. 13, featuring title fights at 135 (Johnny Bedford vs Dat Nguyen) and 155 (Luis Palomino vs Joe Alers), both of which could be loads of fun.
- Bill Dieckhoff TKO-1 Austin Levine (Heavyweights): BKFC claim these two had fought in MMA before, with Dieckhoff winning. If it was anything like this it might not have been too hard for him. Levine went down three times, basically every time Dieckhoff landed a clean shot or anything near a clean shot, really. There was just an obvious difference in punching power between these two, and Levine couldn’t deal with Dieckhoff’s shots.
- Isaac Doolittle MD-5 Brandon Johnson (Cruiserweights): Technically a 185-pound fight, if you need specifics there, but trying to translate this to boxing for most of the people who will read this. Johnson, from northwest Indiana, is 5-1 in MMA and had a 10-inch reach advantage here, but he got dropped in the first by Doolittle, and though he got into the fight from there, it just wasn’t enough. Scores were 47-47, 48-46, and 48-46. BLH had it 49-45 but I’m going to admit that I probably scored a round wrong, but I will stick to it because of my honor or whatever.
- Antonio Hernandez UD-5 Jack Freriks (Light Heavyweights): Freriks came in unbeaten (3-0) in boxing, and Hernandez (2-11-1 boxing) was a last-minute opponent, and is normally a middleweight, coming in at 170 for this fight. But it was Hernandez who did the clear damage and deterred Freriks quite a bit. These two talked a ton of trash during and after rounds, and Hernandez was just able to out-box Freriks; of the fights up to this point on the show, this was the one most obviously between two trained boxers, with jabs and feints and defense and actual movement and stuff. BLH had it 48-47 Hernandez, judges had it
- LJ Hermreck KO-1 Rowdy Akers (Welterweights): Hermreck (3-4 MMA) and Akers (5-5 MMA) just absolutely came out swinging for the fences here, especially Akers, who at 45 is nicknamed “The Senior Citizen.” Akers chucked every wild shot he had at Hermwreck, but kept getting clipped with clean shots, and he was dropped on a flush uppercut and finished off in 51 seconds. Fun fight for as long as it lasted, and Akers had the ugly swollen eye and a couple cuts at the end. He definitely can’t say he didn’t try.
- Fred Pierce KO-1 Jon Hollis (Super Middleweights): Hollis (2-1 boxing, 3-5 MMA) was fighting in his hometown here in Salina, Kan., and he had a rooting section and a lot of energy in his entrance, but man he got wiped out here. Pierce (1-6 MMA) cut him up with shots quick, and then knocked him out on a right hand and left hook. Hollis had some doubts about bare knuckle being for him coming into the fight, and, well, it might not be. But he was in good spirits after, and Pierce, nicknamed “The Bare Knuckle Cowboy,” was very respectful after it was over, a lot of sportsmanship from both guys.
- Kendrick Latchman TKO-2 Miles McDonald (Featherweights): Latchman has MMA (8-6) and pro boxing (1-11-1) experience, and while that boxing record is obviously not good, it’s still 13 fights of pro boxing experience, and 13 pro boxing camps, even if they weren’t world level camps or anything. Latchman tore through McDonald, who is 3-2 in MMA, busting up his left eye terribly and leaving visible marks on his body, and it was body shots that did him in, with two knockdowns forcing a referee stoppage at 1:41 of the second round.