Britain Hart Beltran gives respect to Paige VanZant for sticking it out with BKFC. Her thoughts on BKFC vet Taylor Starling are the complete opposite.
Beltran faces Bec Rawlings for the second time on Friday at BKFC 26 in Hollywood, Fla. The 32-year-old began a massive 2021 campaign with a win over VanZant at KnuckleMania, and told MMA Fighting prior to her fight that she would be proud of the former UFC star if she fought out the remainder of her BKFC contract despite an 0-2 start.
BKFC said VanZant is slated to compete at the promotion’s event in August against a yet-to-be-revealed opponent, and Hart is proud of her former foe for sticking it out.
“Yeah, I think it’s really cool because she doesn’t have to,” Hart told MMA Fighting. “She’s got this big deal with AEW wrestling and at the end of the day, people can talk s***, but it’s about her. Is she happy doing it? And why I’m proud of her in that aspect is that it’s giving people one less thing to talk s*** about you. You’re not a quitter. You’re going out there to finish your contract. Even if you lose and go 0-3, hey, you’re not a quitter and you’ll always have that.
“I think she wins and I think she works hard. Whatever she does, it looks like she gives a lot to it. So hopefully, in England, she gets an opponent, and she gets to walk away with her head held high. I think it’s good.”
On the flip side, there’s Starling, who like Beltran stopped Jenny Savage and was one of the shining stars of BKFC 19 in July 2021 when she overwhelmed Cassie Robb in just 28 seconds. At the event’s post-fight press conference, Beltran and Starling sat next to each other with arms around each other, smiling and putting each other over. They told BKFC President David Feldman they would fight each other, but it would cost the promotion.
Less than a year later, the friendship is no more, and from Beltran’s side, it stemmed from an interview with Starling prior to Beltran’s unanimous decision win over Pearl Gonzalez at November’s BKFC 22 event.
“It’s pretty sad, but I’m 100 percent real all the time, and I’ll say it how it is,” Beltran said. “Me and Taylor were great friends, we trained together, we were part of the same organization, and I remember that moment [when everything changed].
“It was the Pearl Gonzalez fight that ruined our relationship because, I don’t really troll the internet, other people do it for me, and people like to stir the pot. They would send me screenshots of Jenny Savage, Christine Ferea, ‘Look what these people said.’ So someone sent this screenshot and the video asking her who would win, me or Pearl, and she said, ‘I may get a little bit of grief for this, but I’m picking Pearl.’ That’s the moment for me — and it may sound petty, but I don’t care because this is me — if we’re friends, and train together, you pull for that person.
“If you don’t want to say, don’t say it, or say, the best girl is going to win. If someone had asked me, who is going to win, Christine or Taylor — even if I know Christine is going to smash Taylor — I’d say Taylor has the skills, she works really hard, and anything can happen in bare knuckle. But if you don’t believe in me and think I’m going to lose, I don’t need you around me. I don’t need your energy because life is short and my circle is small.”
While Beltran is preparing to face Rawlings and bounce back from her championship loss to Ferea at KnuckleMania 2, Starling is getting her title opportunity against Ferea in the main event of BKFC 27 on Aug. 27. Having trained with Starling, and having fought Ferea on two different occasions, Beltran is predicting one-way traffic for the champion, and a very short night for the challenger and her former friend.
“I do love the fact that anything can happen in the sport, but I’m going to say that it’s a goal for me to knock out Bec Rawlings because I want to be the first female to knock somebody out, but if I don’t get that done June 24, I think the job will definitely be done on Aug. 27 in New Mexico,” Hart explained.
“Honestly, I don’t think it gets out of the first round. So let that be motivation: I don’t think [Taylor] passes the first round.”