Bec Rawlings and bare-knuckle boxing is a perfect fit.
The former UFC women’s strawweight fighter put forth an excellent performance at the inaugural, historic Bare Knuckle FC card Saturday night in Cheyenne, Wyo. Rawlings defeated boxer Alma Garcia by TKO via doctor stoppage (cuts) following the second round in the co-main event of the night.
“I’m the queen of bare-knuckle boxing,” Rawlings said afterward.
After a slow start, Rawlings lumped Garcia up late in the first round and even dropped her near the end of the two minutes. The Australian scrapper continued the onslaught in the second round and the doctors called the fight with Garcia on the stool. The key to Rawlings’ game was a rule in bare knuckle that allows you to hold a single collar-tie and continue punching with the other hand.
“It’s great to be able to just let my hands go and showcase my boxing skills,” Rawlings said. “I feel like I outboxed a boxer today.”
The highlight of the night was a burn burner of a battle between MMA veterans Joey Beltran and Tony Lopez.
In a back-and-forth bloodbath of a fight, Beltran bested Lopez by unanimous decision (49-45, 49-45, 49-46) in a heavyweight tournament alternate bout. Beltran opened up a nasty cut on Lopez’s head early on, but Lopez rallied in the late rounds with huge shots. The reaction on social media was that Beltran vs. Lopez seemed like the bare-knuckle equivalent of Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar — a war that helps elevate the medium.
In a post-fight interview, Bare Knuckle FC promoter David Feldman said he could not have scripted the first event any better.
“We are here to stay and I think that we just showed the rest of the combat sports world that there is a new player in town,” Feldman told interviewer Ron Kruck.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez defeated Lewis Rumsey by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 48-47) in the main event, which was a heavyweight tournament quarterfinal bout. Rodriguez pushed forward the entire fight and did some damage, but Rumsey spent most of the five rounds evading.
Bobby Gunn, called the linear bare knuckle heavyweight champion, beat boxing veteran Irineu Beato Costa Jr. by knockout at 41 seconds of the first round. Gunn appeared to land shots to the body in consecutive exchanges, dropping Beato Costa twice. But the way Beato Costa fell both times had those watching from home questioning the validity of the fight on social media.
UFC vet Johnny Bedford styled on Nick Mamalis for the better part of two rounds before referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in at 1:41 of the second. Bedford has gone 4-2 in MMA since being released by the UFC, but has dropped two straight in the cage.
Sam Shewmaker, a 3-0 pro boxer, stopped Bellator veteran Eric Prindle with a one-punch knockout at just 18 seconds of the first round in one of the highlights of the card.
Also on the card, UFC veteran Estevan Payan knocked out Omar Avelar at 1:57 of the first round, kickboxer Maurice Jackson stopped Dale Sopi at 1:10 of the first and Reggie Barnett beat Travis Thompson by unanimous decision.
In the opener, Arnold Adams beat MMA veteran DJ Linderman by TKO due to doctor stoppage (cuts) at the end of the second round.