Knuckle Up News I BKFC 56 Fighter Matchup
BKFC heads to Salt Lake City, Utah in the biggest event of the promotion's history!
There is going to be more violence and heart pounding action than any combat sporting event this year and if you are a current subscriber, you will be able to watch the event for only $29.99. Be on the lookout for your one time use promo code which you can use at checkout for the purchase of the event on December 2nd. The purchase must be made at BKFC.com but once bought, all normal streaming services will show the full card.
Cardio wins the day more than usual in longer distance fights with Salt Lake City standing 4265 feet (1288 Meters) above sea level. Many of the higher card fighters have bare knuckle experience in Denver which sits even higher, and in a 10 minute, or 12 minute max fight, we should see all gas no breaks from 95% of these fighters. Altitude also effects the chins of even the most battle tested warriors and acclimation, training and experience will shine through even more than usual on a stacked BKFC PPV card. Let's run down the full card starting with the main event and ending with the very first prelim bout of the night to learn a little about each of the matchups!
Mike Perry vs Eddie Alvarez
Middleweight "King of Violence" Main Event
Mike Perry is one of, if not the very most well known fighter on the BKFC roster. He found himself in the world's fastest growing fighting promotion after his contract with the world leader in combat sports had expired and he wanted to explore his possibilities. Perry spent three years in the UFC and after choosing to not renew his contract in April of 2021, "Platinum" decided to explore greener pastures and found himself removing the gloves and fighting for the world's premier bare-knuckle boxing organization. His circumstance landing him in the BKFC is unique for fact he was never cut by his former platform, but decided on his own to explore what else could be out there in the combat sports world. In his past fighting MMA, Perry has scored wins over future UFC hall of famer, Paul Felder along with Alex Olivera, Mickey Gall and Alex Reyes. It's worth noting that he owns a knockout over the BKFC middleweight champion, David Mundell. The two faced off in Battleground MMA back in May of 2016 and Perry knocked out Mundell at the end of the second round. There is zero doubt that if Perry is able to claim victory here over "The Underground King," he will be next in line to challenge "The Redneck" in what we can assume will be a grudge match for the ages. Perry will no doubt have his hands full on December 2nd, but his sheer toughness and determination to continue his streak can get him the win over a fighter who throughout both of their careers has been at a higher level. When he fought Luke Rockhold back in April 2023 at BKFC 41, he made very quick work of a fighter we could also say has reached a higher level than himself and that didn't seem to matter whatsoever.
The former UFC middleweight champ quit after he felt the power of "Platinum" in the middle of the second round and even Perry was shocked at how easy that fight was for him. Rockhold made some interesting comments before their fight that merit discussion here. He said, "Mike is stupid and that makes him dangerous." Riddled with controversy in and out of his professional life, some may be critical of the Florida native, but one thing is absolutely certain, without gloves and without a ground component in a fight, Mike Perry is an incredibly dangerous man with speed and size over most of his opponents.
If you were to describe Eddie Alvarez in one word, "legend" would be the only reasonable choice. If he were to describe him in three words, "The Underground King" is a rightful fit. With wins over some of the best in the world of MMA, including Justin Gaethje, Rafael dos Anjos, Anthony Pettis, Michael Chandler and many others, Alvarez has more than earned his place in the "King of Violence" title in the world's most brutal sanctioned sport. Alvarez has something that Perry has no doubt wanted in the past, and that is 10 pounds of UFC gold and leather. Alvarez has been the lightweight champion in not only the UFC but also in Bellator when he defeated Michael Chandler who still currently sits within the top 5 in the world's premier MMA promotion at the time of this writing. Alvarez comes from Philly where there is a deep fighting culture both in the spotlight and in dark alleyways hints his nickname "The Underground King." He's fought bare knuckle perhaps more than 90% of the BKFC roster in his past before becoming one of the most feared men in the octagon. He prefers a standup fight and embraces the "in-your-face" wars that you would see in a street fight.
He's not focused on defense or dancing around the Squared Circle to earn a win by split decision despite earning one over the fellow combat sports legend, Chad Mendes. That performance by both fighters will no doubt become a hall of fame bout, forever remembered in bare-knuckle history similar to Griffen vs Bonnar 1 or Lawler vs MacDonald 1 in the MMA world. Eddie Alvarez, throughout his long, 20-year combat sports career has given us everything, not only in the world's three largest MMA promotions, but now he's taken off the gloves, he's leaned into the violence and he's intent on adding another checkmark and belt to his one in a million list of accomplishments. We can only hope Eddie doesn't retire after this performance, win or lose because it seems he has so much left in the tank and he's been a killer amongst killers since day one.
Paths to Victory
These two size up very well together with Mike Perry having only a one-inch height advantage and a two in reach advantage over Alvarez. Perry will be the bigger fighter as "The Underground King" has mentioned on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani and the press conference leading up to this bout. Alvarez prefers to fight bigger, slower fighters who posseess more power but may be a little more clumsy and less reactive than smaller fighters, who he's admitted give him the most trouble previously. Eddie looks to have bulked up quite a bit for this fight seeing as how, even in his first ever BKFC matchup against Chad Mendes, he was scrapping at lightweight. There is two ways to look at this weight gain on the Alvarez side. One, he could have a much better chin and could have significantly stronger cardio having to deplete himself far less than all of his past high-level fights. Two, he could be far slower and could be exactly what he is saying Mike Perry will be, which is the bigger, slower guy.
Mike Perry on the other hand has spent his career at Middleweight which in BKFC terms is actually a 10-pound difference to what he's used to in MMA (185 in MMA, 175 in BKFC.) If we observe this fact, both men are fighting at different weight classes than they have throughout their careers. What's the point to this? The point is this is a strange matchup for both fighters. No one necessarily has the cut and dry advantage here. Perry has fought at this weight class three times and has proven to be a legitimate threat despite not earning a clean knockout here yet.
The power and brute force strength go to Perry, and Alvarez knows this. The fight IQ and the experience go to Alvarez and Perry would be foolish to not acknowledge this. But who will throw at higher volume? Who will dig deeper should the fight go to round four, five or even the rare tie breaking round six? Possibly most important of all these questions, who will land at a higher clip? Both fighters depend on landing more punches than their opponent in the Squared Circle based off of the small sample size of performances here. The Julian Lane fight for Perry is the single exception with a marginal four strike difference in favor of Lane in that bout. It's safe to say the busier fighter will win this fight. It's hard to see a finish here but it's far from impossible when you observe the heavy hands from both warriors. If a finish comes early in the fight, it will likely be from Perry who really seems to have found some extra lead in his hands as he's gained his footing in a new combat sport. At the same time a belt is on the line here and if we know anything from "The Underground King," it's that he won't roll over for anyone and he has zero intent on losing to someone who he sees as an inferior fighter. The word "fighter" is used there over "martial artist" or "boxer" intentionally because both of these savages are just that and they both lean into the violence of bare-knuckle fighting. We are truly lucky to see this matchup take place in Salt Lake City on December 2nd.
As much as it may be an obvious take. both fighters win by doing the exact same thing. Perry wins by out landing and dropping Alvarez more than he gets dropped. The same is said for Alvarez. Both fighters will likely win minutes of the fight and this likely goes the distance with both men being left bloodied and bruised but not broken before a possible split decision gets read to a crowd who has gotten more than what they paid for throughout the night. The winner will feel entitled and the loser will feel cheated. Don't be surprised if both fighters get dropped three times each in a war of attrition between two of the very best bare-knuckle gladiators to ever toe the line.
Ben Rothwell vs Todd Duffee
Heavyweight Co Main Event
Ben Rothwell steps into the Squared Circle at 2-0 against two of the most feared heavyweights in the world of bare-knuckle. Bobo O'bannon and Josh Copeland are anything but slouches when it comes to throwing hands and performing at the highest levels of a brutal sport. After the Copeland matchup, Rothwell looked like he had gone through a meatgrinder but there wasn't ever a moment where it seemed out of Big Ben's control. The two shared the post-fight press conference stage and Rothwell was adamant about getting a title shot as soon as possible. Todd Duffee is a rare bird when it comes to the MMA world. He has a 9-4 record with every single win and loss coming by way of knockout with a single no contest because of, you guessed it, an accidental strike. The man does not intend on going the distance and rarely likes to go longer than five minutes.
This fight will end in round one or two. If it goes to round three, you as a viewer are getting more than you could possibly hope for! Look for Big Ben to attempt to back up the equally massive Todd Duffee but being met with a stonewall attitude and possibly catching some nasty shots to that infamously durable chin. Ben Rothwell has 21 knockouts in professional MMA! That's one less than Derrick Lewis who holds the knockout record in the UFC. Rothwell is the more powerful and experienced bare-knuckle fighter along with the likely more technical striker when only punches are allowed. Duffee does not care about odds, skill, experience or power. He simply will come out here and make this a car crash until someone is unconscious. You'd be a fool to confidently pick a side in this matchup but man, is it going to be wild to see some big ole boys with fire in their hands meet in the middle of the ring in Salt Lake City without gloves and without the will to give up a single inch until their opponent takes a trip to the shadow realm!
Christine Ferea vs Bec Rawlings
Women's Flyweight Title Bout
Proudly claiming the title of the very best female fighter in the BKFC, Christine Ferea has won this fight back in April of this year at BKFC 41. The had a back-and-forth clash with the Aussie Bec Rawlings, and the fight was cut short due to doctor stoppage between rounds two and three scoring "The Misfit" a TKO win in round two. When you watch Ferea in the BKFC you might think, "how the hell do you beat this woman at flyweight?" She's so physical, she's so mean and she's so skilled both offensively and defensively. It may sound easy, but all her opponent would have to do to defeat her is out physical her and be the bully. Just ask Helen Peralta who defeated Ferea back at BKFC 7 in August of 2019. She wasn't technical and arguably, she wasn't the better fighter that night. Peralta simply bullied Ferea and won albeit by the thinnest of margins and a case could be made that Ferea was cheated in that result. Rowdy Bec needs to own the center of the Squared Circle. She can't back up and even if she is stepping forward swinging wild hooks, it will likely get her further than her last performance where she gave up far too much of the ring and allowed for herself to become the bullied. Ferea opened up Rawlings right eyebrow in the middle of round one and just kept touching it throughout the two-round fight. As difficult as it may sound for Rawlings, she needs to throw her technical boxing into the trash for this fight and charge in with massive volume.
Ferea is bigger and stronger, but Rawlings seems to be the faster one when she throws straight punches. She'll need to throw combos, leading with a jab and ending with hooks and embracing some uppercuts if she can drag this fight out. For Ferea to win, she just needs to do what she has done in seven of her eight bare-knuckle fights, BE THE BULLY! She is no doubt heading into this fight knowing where the score stands against someone, she has already technically finished. Go back and watch their matchup at BKFC 41 and you'll see this is a dangerous fight for both ladies. It's no walk in the park for "The Misfit" but she will be heavily favored to win the rematch. Of course, when these dominant fighters feel shortchanged in previous bouts, they come back with a vengeance, so Ferea will be looking for a formal knockout as soon as she hears "knuckle up" in round one.
Kai Stewart vs Howard Davis
Featherweight Title Bout
What a fight we have here in the middle of the main card! Kai Stewart comes from a wrestling background but sits at 4-0 in an exclusively striking promotion where he has look incredibly dominant. He last defeated fellow Montana native and rival Louie Lopez in dominant fashion after some heated verbal exchanges had taken place before they faced off. Looking at the X's and O's of this matchup, it is interesting that Howard Davis' only loss in the BKFC has been delivered by Louie Lopez via doctor stoppage back at BKFC 34 after the very first round. None the less, HD absolutely deserves this title shot and it will be a clash of styles with Davis attempting to use his range in a technical striking match while Stewart will try to make this a dirty, gritty clinch battle. Just because HD will be looking to strike at distance doesn't mean he won't hold a power edge. Stepping in considerably taller, Davis holds a considerable power and experience edge. He holds more fights, more wins and more knockouts in the Squared Circle than the champion. Stewart holds a big fight IQ advantage and that's why he is the champion in an increasingly competitive division.
Look for Stewart to clinch and dirty box his way to a decision. Look for HD to attempt to catch Kai coming in with an uppercut or simply try to shuck him off and attempt to establish dominance at distance throughout the fight. Davis is the far more dangerous fighter, but Kai didn't get to the dance because he's interested in a dog fight. He'll be the mentally superior fighter but what gameplan seals the deal here? The car crash style of Howard Davis or the cerebral process of Kai Stewart?
Arnold Adams vs Mick Terrill
Heavyweight Title Bout
Since the heavyweight title was vacated earlier this year, there has been questions about who will claim, or in this case reclaim the role of the baddest man on the planet. Arnold Adams lost that belt back in February and it seems the only reason he did was because of a misunderstanding of the referee's ten-count. None the less, he took it on the chin and he's back to take back what he feels like he never lost. He'll be taking on the Kickboxer, Mick Terrill who only has a single loss in the Squared Circle. It just so happens that loss was delivered by his opponent here back at BKFC 19 and he quit in the third round after some brutal shots. All of Terrill's BK wins come by finish and all but one of Adams' wins haven't seen the final bell. Again, this fight will not go the distance. Expect technical but ill-intending strikes to be thrown by both men until someone takes a nap in the center of the ring. Terrill has a second chance here and the stakes are higher than ever between the two. Adams will have the cardio and power edge while Terril will utilize his footwork and counter attacks for as long as this fight lasts. They are both coming off of impressive performances despite having mixed results. Adams lost his belt to Alan Belcher but not without severely damaging the former champ in the first two and a half rounds.
Adams out struck Belcher by 2x, knocked him down twice and was well on his way to retaining his belt before being knocked down almost out of nowhere. "Bomaye" as he's known will need to remain more present even after he has early success if he wants to be a two-time BKFC heavyweight champion. Mick Terrill absolutely brutalized Steve Banks in their main event bout back in the late November 2022 Newcastle card. Terrill maintained an outstanding 86% striking accuracy landing double the punches over Banks and clearly has earned a shot at the vacant title here. The winner of this matchup will in all likelihood face the winner of the co-main event this evening.
Jeremy Stephens vs Jimmie Rivera
Two MMA legends toe the line here in what could be the most interesting fights to break down on the night. Likely, this matchup is flying under the radar for some younger BKFC fans as well. Jeremy Stephens has a robust 29-21 professional MMA record dating back to 2005, spending time in the UFC going 15-18 and most recently, the PFL earning himself a 1-2 record. He's shared the cage with some of the best to ever do it including Max Holloway, Jose Aldo, Calvin Katter and many more. He went to a draw Jose Aldo in their recent boxing match and that is truly something to keep in mind as he steps into a sport more closely tied to boxing over MMA with Jose Aldo being regarded by most as the greatest featherweight of all time. Jimmie Rivera has similar accolades in MMA, with a professional career dating back to 2007 and sharing the cage with legends like Aljamain Sterling, Petr Yan, Pedro Munhoz and more. Most relevant to BKFC, he owns unanimous decision win over BKFC flyweight champion John Dodson who has looked levels ahead in all of his bare-knuckle bouts. Revera holds a small but legitimate experience edge in the Squared Circle having fought to a draw with title challenger Howard Davis and getting a win over Bekhzod Usmonov. Rivera is astoundingly accurate but lacks punching power. In both of his BKFC bouts, "El Terror" has out landed his opponent by at least a 30% margin even if he's throwing less punches. Stephens will have to focus on defense and his goal will be to end this fight before the final bell as Rivera's likelihood of winning will increase with each passing round. If a finish comes here, it will be delivered by the greater power-puncher in Stephens who will have to shake those first-time jitters quickly and press forward. Look for volume and accuracy by Rivera and hopefully good defense and movement from Stephens who has suffered in recent performances due to his opponent's ground game. This will be a great chess match with two technical strikers with proven toughness and durability!
Ben Moa vs Bridger Bercier
Ben Moa has a wild life story and it rolls on into the BKFC. The 5-2 professional MMA fighter is a high-level athlete and has a lengthy sports career dating back to his college days. He spent time on the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets after attending The University of Utah on a full ride athletic scholarship. Moa has risen above the negativity of his past which was full of violence, crime and gang related activity. He was shot his freshman year in college and that's when it seems Moa realized his life was wasted in living recklessly and he's managed to turn things around for the better. Moa is taking on Bridger Bercier, a boxer fighting out of Great Falls, Montana. Bercier is on a bit of a skid as he steps into the Squared Circle with five losses in a row and hopes to turn things around in a new sport. Moa seems like he has all the advantages here on paper. He's the bigger, more athletic fighter with some good momentum after an MMA win back in January of this year. Training out of Salt Lake City, he'll have homefield advantage and likely the better cardio should the fight go long although, this bout will not go the distance. If Bercier can utilize some good defense early on and drag Moa into later rounds, Moa will no doubt feel like he's fighting a losing battle as he's never won a fight that's lasted longer than eight minutes. Most of Moa's wins come by knockout early in the first round so these two are going to embrace the violence and in all likelihood, have a short night at the office.
Mike Jones vs Erick Lozano
Light Heavyweight Bout
The main card kicks off with a great matchup between two experienced MMA strikers with knockout power and proven track records. Mike Jones is fighting out of Utah and Like Ben Moa, has spent some time in FFC, a Utah regional promotion. He does have the better record of the two here (10-7 vs 14-23) and is riding a three-fight win streak as he toes the line in what will be the highest profile fight of his career. Erick Lozano has a three bare-knuckle fight experience edge and has a proven ability to finish his opponents and take damage while doing so. A major highlight on Lozano's record is his matchup with The Juggernaut back in 2020 where he outthrew and stayed very competitive with the double champ before getting knocked out in round three. Jones will likely have quite a considerable speed edge, but the power will go to Lozano. Both fighters have gotten great looks from excellent fighters in the past and will need any edge they can find in a tightly contested matchup. It would be hard to make a solid prediction here on either side or the method of victory but Lozano having set foot in the Squared Circle multiple times could prove to be valuable in a bout where he will likely be the underdog. Lozano is 7 years older than Jones and four inches shorter. Since Lozano enjoys a fight at distance, he will need to mind his p's and q's when getting into striking range with the longer fighter. Look for Lozano to be all the way in or all the way out, while looking to counter the offense of Jones. At the same time, look for Jones the try and bully Lozano and establish his reach early. Neither fighter has an easy path here and this is solid matchmaking by the BKFC to start the main card!
Keegan Vandermeer vs Esteban Rodriguez
Cruiserweight Prelim Bout
Keegan Vandermeer has seen nothing but success in his BKFC bouts as an undefeated fighter at 2-0 with knock out wins over Dillon Winemiller and Zeb Vincent. The 31-year-old tried his hand in traditional boxing and suffered a knockout loss in late September of this year. This should be acknowledged as we are sitting 3 months after the loss, and he will be fighting a busy, high-volume striker with knockout power. Rodriguez has out struck every single opponent he's faced in the BKFC including in his loss to John Michael Escoboza where he threw 375 punches and landed 62% of them. This could be a co-main event on a normal card and these two are going to put on a great show! The fact that Rodriguez has proven he can stay competitive over 10 minutes is huge here because this will be a close fight which could go the distance. Vandermeer has less than two minutes in the Squared Circle over as many fights so this could be a concern should the defense of Rodriguez hold up as well as it has in his previous fights. Look for high volume and excellent defense from Rodriguez with power and precision coming by Vandermeer. We will likely see a finish here and the longer the fight goes, the more it should favor Rodriguez.
LJ Schulz vs Danny Hilton
Lightweight Prelim Bout
LJ Schulz and Danny Hilton have very similar MMA careers fighting comparable levels of competition, but we can still manage to find an edge for one of them here. Neither fighter has proven themselves to be a knockout artist with a majority of both of their wins coming by submission, but they will embrace a back-and-forth war on the feet in a new sport. Schulz has a 6-5 record fighting on the Utah regional scene while Hilton sits at 7-6 fighting mostly in the Arizona regional scene including Rage in the Cage which is an underrated regional promotion talent-wise. Hilton has also made a transition over to traditional boxing and seen great success with two quick knockouts over lower-level fighters. He'll be the considerably taller fighter here standing at 6'0", which is quite tall for 155 lbs. vs 5'7". Hilton is a year younger (36 vs 37) and if he has learned some effective striking in his young boxing career, he should be able to dance around Schultz's power shots and counter more effectively. Schultz has to crash into the pocket and expect to be out landed but if he can connect early before Hilton gets going, he can surprise easily here. Both fighters have been knocked out twice so defense is paramount for the two here. Schultz should look for a quick fight and Hilton needs to be aware of the early danger in this matchup.
Trevor Bradshaw vs Troy Dennison
Welterweight Prelim Bout
The curtain-jerker of the evening will have a solid matchup between to strikers who are both willing to stand and bang and prefer a heavy-action fight. Between the two who have a combined, 31 professional fights they have only gone to decision twice. That means we as fans are in for a finish here almost guaranteed. Dennison steps in as more of a knockout artist over the always tough Bradshaw who actually fought Mike Jones back at Steelfist fight night in 2015. For Bradshaw, he will need to be more defensively sound than he has been in his MMA fights. Looking at his knockout numbers may be concerning if one was to place a bet on his side because we see he has been knocked out or technically knocked out six times while his opponent here has only been once. Dennison actually has lost a wide majority of his MMA fights by submission. Still, this isn't an easy Dennison play here despite him being the taller and younger man in this bout. It will be interesting to see the efficiency of Bradshaw's striking when grappling is off the table, and he can focus only on a left and right hand. Troy Dennison will likely open as a favorite here and it makes all the sense in the world, but this isn't the fight to bet the house on by any means! There's a long night of fights ahead of what could actually be high up on the "fight of the night" contender list. Enjoy this great card and good luck should you decide to make any wagers in any of the closely matched up bouts this evening!