Knuckle Up News | BKFC 57 Palomino vs Trout
BKFC 57 goes down on Friday February 2, 2024 in Hollywood, Florida!
The 13-fight card is headlined by the current number one pound for pound bare-knuckle fighter in the world, Luis Palomino and the former light middleweight World Boxing Association Champion, Austin Trout. We'll also see Bryce Henry vs Robbie Peralta in the co-main event along with Bryan Duran vs Louie Lopez, Leonardo Perdomo vs Bobby Brents and much more! Even the free prelims are sure to be bangers with Ryan Reber vs Derek Perez, Stephen Townsel vs Leo Bercier and Rambo Russo vs Justin Street kicking off the night. Let's take a look at the matchups from the Sunshine State and see if we can find an edge for either fighter before the night gets started.
Luis Palomino vs Austin Trout
Welterweight Title Fight
Luis ‘Baboon' Palomino is the pound for pound number one for a reason, actually to date, for nine reasons. All nine of the Peruvian's fights have gone his way and a case could be made that he hasn't even lost a single round. None of his fights have ended by split decision either. He's got TKOs, KOs, doctor stoppages and unanimous decision wins and really has looked unbeatable in all of them. Palomino fights how his opponent is most uncomfortable. Lately, he has said himself that he is taking more of a conservative approach to not only protect his record and legacy, but hopefully earn the highest profile fights possible. His version of conservative fighting is still levels above most other fighters and a dog fight might be brought out of him against his toughest test to date in Trout.
Austin ‘No Doubt' Trout has a boxing career that speaks for itself, proving that despite only having one fight in the BKFC, he has earned the chance to knockout the pound for pound BKFC G.O.A.T. Trout last fought Diego Sanchez in the Squared Circle and defeated him by doctor stoppage late in round four back at KnuckleMania 3. Being a true competitor, Trout has fought twice since then keeping his skills sharp and staying active. He has not lost since 2020 and sits on an eight fight win streak between boxing and BK boxing. His only losses have been delivered by the likes of Canelo Álvarez, the Charlo brothers and so on. Sitting currently at 37-5-1 in pro boxing, he has the opportunity to shoot right to the top of the premier BK promotion in the world. He fights from southpaw, pumps his jab which opens up lethal combinations,, stays extremely light on his feet with a wide stance and low guard.
Paths to Victory
As mentioned, this on paper is Luis Palomino's toughest test in the BKFC to date and frankly, that's how it should be. When a champion defends his belt seven times, matchmaking for a compelling fight becomes difficult. Enter, Austin Trout who in terms of traditional boxing has a massive edge in experience over Palomino. Palomino has stood up with the UFC's BMF belt holder Justin Gaethje for almost five rounds so he is by no means going to be outclassed here. What will be interesting here is how will Trout react when he is backed up by Palomino? Trout gave up ring space and used textbook counter attacks to lure in the less skilled Sanchez in his first fight but Palomino should be aware of this. Backing up against Palomino means you lose unless you catch him with something but "Baboon's" chin has been tested multiple times so no one should count on a one-shot KO against him. Palomino will have no problem point-fighting his way to a decision so Trout has to be more aggressive than he was in his first fight.
Another thing with Palomino is that he seems unpredictable. As soon as you read here that he has backed off on the aggression in his last few fights, he will come out with more pressure than ever before and look for the knockout for 10 minutes or less.
Also, keep in mind that Austin Trout is coming off of two traditional boxing matches where he won, but blocking punches with those big gloves is far different than with bare knuckles. Don't be surprised if Palomino is able to split the guard of Trout and piece him up in the pocket. Bothe fighters have solid clinch work but the edge goes to Palomino where at distance, the longer and more technical Trout has a considerable edge. This line should be set at a pick'em or close to it but Palomino will likely be the favorite because of his massive BK boxing experience edge. Be careful picking Palomino if he's more than a -330 favorite because this is far from a guarantee for him.
On the other side if Trout is around a +265 dog you almost have to pull the trigger there. There is finishing upside for both fighters with a slight edge going to Palomino and don't be surprised if we get a late finish. These guys both carry big power for the duration of the fight.
Bryce Henry vs Robbie Peralta
The rapidly rising Bryce ‘Baba Yaga' Henry fights Robbie ‘Problems' Peralta in what could main event any numbered BKFC card. The 23-year-old Henry is going to look a weight class bigger than Peralta and that's because he's a massive 6'3", huge for 155 pounds. Peralta is a more reasonable 5'8" and for that reason, just like all of Bryce Henry's opponents, he'll be fighting uphill from the opening bell. Peralta has to close the distance and avoid at all costs being at range, but he tends to fight from the outside in previous bouts. Actually, both fighters can be too patient and try to set up a good counter strike, but Henry will win that distance battle 99 times out of 100.
They both also like to extend from range and jab the body, again a dangerous game for Peralta. "Problems" must push the pace, get reckless and bully the young kid for a win. Both fighters fight technical fights, but the tale of the tape heavily favors one fighter over the other. You've heard it before here, box a brawler, brawl a boxer. Peralta needs to become the brawler. Henry will be heavily favored odds wise and a finish from either fighter is likely despite their patient nature.
JoMi Escoboza vs Isaac Doolittle
Light Heavyweight Bout
This fight has no business going the distance with two light heavyweights throwing hands but it very well could. Escoboza has nine bare-knuckle fights with four knockout wins and Doolittle has six BK fights with two knockouts. They both have solid and tested chins with only Isaac having experienced the shadow realm by the hands of BKFC pioneer Mike Richman. They've had a common opponent in Jared Warren with Escoboza losing to "Captain Deadpool" and Doolittle winning. Both fighters are high volume but Doolittle is around 15% more accurate with his strikes oftentimes landing north of 70% where Escoboza is closer to landing 55%. Both fighters, no doubt want a rematch for a chance to inch their way closer to the top of 205 and winning this fight is the first step. Doolittle currently sits at third in the rankings while Escoboza is just outside of the top five.
The problem in picking this fight is that both fighters fight to the level of their opponent. All of their fights look competitive even if they truly aren't and while that makes for a hell of a show, neither fighter should want to leave it up to the judges, especially Doolittle who feels robbed after his last draw. Doolittle has a significant height disadvantage here (6'3" vs 5'10") but he has beaten taller fighters before so this is your coinflip fight of the night. If either fighter is more than a +200 dog, jump on him.
Bryan Duran vs Louie Lopez
A great fight for what will likely be Kai Stewart's next challenger, especially if Bryan Duran finds the win. Louie Lopez fought in the first ever BKFC featherweight title fight and showed why he was chosen for that role losing via decision against the now 5-0 Stewart. Duran has that same record as the champ at 5-0 and this may be a hot take but Lopez has fought the better competition by a good margin. This is no fault of Duran who has knocked out everyone the BKFC has put in front of him but his best win is against the 1-1-0 Braeden Tovey. In fact, taking Duran's and Lopez's opponent's combined records we get 3-12-0 for Duran and 15-9-1 for Lopez. Where Lopez lacks is not physically but emotionally. He will need to stay present and calm to hand "El Gallo" his first L. Cardio edge goes to Duran, experience goes to Lopez, power may lean slightly towards Duran but the ability to dig deep and bleed for a win goes to Lopez.
Duran has yet to face significant adversity so be careful if he's a big favorite heading into fight night. There is a lot of pressure on Lopez to keep his number one contender title against the unranked Duran and that could weigh heavy on his mind. "El Loco" needs to treat this as if he is 0-0, fighting another 0-0 fighter and there are no stakes on the outcome. Lopez also gets hit more than he lands and that can spell out bad news with the power of Duran.
Alberto Blas vs Daniel Alvarez
Not to beat this "opponent's combined records" thing into the ground but we see another fight here, where the blue and red corner have faced different levels of opposition. Alberto Blas, while talented, has a combined opponent record of 2-5-0 while the former title challenger, Alvarez has faced opponents with a combined record of 12-5-0. Both of Alvarez's opponents have either held a BKFC belt or fought for one, and his loss to Reggie Barnett frankly came because Barnett was looking for a way out and pointed the referee to Alvarez's broken hand. So why is Alberto Blas likely going to be favored here? The reason is because the American Top Team striker has far more professional fight experience and is a proven product. Alvarez is more aggressive and more technical. Blas is a nasty southpaw counter puncher with what can only be described as horrifying clinch work, so the question here is who will implement the more effective gameplan?
Chris Garcia vs Albert Inclan
Chris Garcia steps into the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino with a 2-0-0 record and scraps with another fighter who has a worse record, but higher level BKFC experience. That fighter is Albert Inclan, who has gotten some support on social media because of his life's tribulations and he sits at 1-1-0. Inclan was shot shortly before his BKFC debut and still managed to impress at his tryout session, earning himself a spot on BKFC Jackson MS. back in January of 2022. As an orthodox stance fighter, Garcia uses his jab and lead hook as a rangefinder and he lands nasty combinations from there. He's even been acclaimed by his opponent's corners for baiting them into using basic counter punching tactics. The southpaw, Inclan gets hit far too much by orthodox fighters and he will need to focus on defense to avoid a stoppage here. Inclan has fought better competition by a mile but he's gone the distance in both of his BKFC fights where Garcia has knocked out the inferior opponents. Garcia has the cardio and Garcia has the stopping power. Both fighters have the heart, so who makes this their fight?
Leonardo Perdomo vs Bobby Brents
This fight ends before the three minute mark 99% guaranteed. Leo Perdomo throws bombs in the Squared Circle and "The Freak," as Brents is known, is not one to welcome a decision either. Brents' first real pro MMA loss after going on a nine-fight run was against the consensus UFC heavyweight G.O.A.T. Stipe Miocic, and he's got more finish wins than anything else over his 21 year pro MMA career. Perdomo will be the far more athletic fighter here as well as the more pressure-heavy striker. If Brents wants to make a statement in his first BKFC fight, he will need to stand his ground and push forward on the quicker, more fit fighter and end things fast. There is a bit of a paradox going on here with Perdomo having the biggest edge at the opening bell and later as the fight goes on. Brents will have to capitalize in that awkward second and third round where Perdomo might take his foot off the gas if he doesn't get his typical round one KO.
Christine Vicens vs Sydney Smith
Women Flyweight Bout
If Christine Vicens could focus more on being active, she would make for an interesting matchup with Christine Ferea at 125. We have a tale of two fighters here with Vicens being the polished striker and Smith being more of an aggressive brawler. Smith will have the height edge here, and that seems to be a key component in not only Smith's victories, but in women's fighting in general. Typically in women's combat sports, whoever has the physical attributes and aggression tends to come out on top. Smith likes to fight at range while using lead hooks and jabs to open up what can be unpredictable combinations.
If Smith can establish range in round one and keeps Vicens at bay, it's a wrap. If Vicens can break through the reach disadvantage and crack smith just a couple of times in the pocket, it will shift the momentum of this fight in her favor early. It would make sense for Smith to be favored here but Vicens is the rightful favorite and it's very possible we see a finish in this female flyweight bout despite both women's toughness. One important thing to note is that Vicens openly admits that she has a lot on her plate with being a business owner, mother and wife. How did the Vicens training camp go? How limited were the distractions?
Justin Ibarrola vs Landon Williams
This matchup for both fighters is make or break. It may sound hyperbolic for two fighters who are just getting started in BKFC but Ibarrola has to get a good win under his belt and Williams needs to avoid going 0-2-0 to stay relevant in the division. Ibarrola has been outstruck in both of his decision wins but won both fights because of the optics and damage. Williams is 0-1-0 and was outclassed by Rick Caruso in what was Caruso's first win after losing three straight fights in the BKFC Squared Circle.
Ibarrola should be favored as the rising prospect and the one with more finishing upside despite not finishing in the BKFC yet. The logic there is that Williams will give Ibarrola the opportunity to get a KO in round two or three. Newer fighters tend to have pacing issues and go out too hard in round one. If Williams can manage distance and pace, he can pull out, what will in all likelihood will be an upset win.
Edgard Plazaola vs Darrick Gates
Darrick Gates has a tall task ahead of him here at BKFC 57. Plazaola has never lost a professional fight in his life and is going against the 1-4-0 Gates. We can't completely count Gates out since he has been in the Squared Circle with Kai Stewart but again, this is a tough matchup for him. Plazaola will come out with heavy pressure, throwing bombs in round one. If Gates wants a win, he could get there by catching the slightly shorter Plazaola coming in. Gates will need to expect aggression from Plazaola as soon as he hears "knuckle up," and he should focus all of his energy on counter attacks. However, Gates cannot allow Plazola to bully him backwards. "The Dreamkiller" as Plazaola is known will be able to keep a faster five-round pace. This fight will not go the distance and in all likelihood ends in round one.
Ryan Reber vs Derek Perez
Prelim Bantamweight Bout
In another extremely well matched up bout in Hollywood, Florida, we have an undefeated prospect against an underrated contender. Ryan Reber is that 4-0-0 fighter and Derek Perez is the 2-1-0 contender that seems like he could be undefeated if he hadn't faced the current champion of the division in his second BKFC fight. Reber's last fight against the great Travis Thompson was controversial due to the extra round and split decision victory but a win is a win as close as it was. The muddy water deepens when we look at Reber's second to last fight where he won by essentially a DQ. So now we have a hot prospect with his last two wins being controversial and contested by viewers. On the other side, we have a long, technical striker who runs a gym where he trains other BKFC fighters with his brother and who will likely be a considerable underdog heading into fight night. Bet wisely here because all signs point to Reber but Perez is going to likely be the most live dog on this card.
Stephen Townsel vs Leo Bercier
Prelim Cruiserweight Bout
This should open as a pick'em in very close fight between two big, tough dudes, the larger one being Townsel. He is giving up 10 years to the 33-year-old Bercier but we have seen that in bare-knuckle boxing older fighters can do fine with the average champion age being 33.11. Remove Kai Stewart who is the 23 year old outlier and it shoots up to 38.3 years old. Every one of the two's bare-knuckle fights have ended by knockout so it goes without saying, don't use this fight for your bathroom break or drink refill time. Townsel will outthrow Bercier unless we get a KO during the first exchange. Bercier has been outthrown by sometimes double in all but one of his fights and he can be a bit too conservative with his striking although he's a sniper.
Townsel will look to be the aggressor here but he needs to watch out for Bercier's best weapon, his right hand. The southpaw, Townsel has a hard time with hard right hands as both of his BKFC losses were delivered by orthodox stance, right hand power punchers. It's possible that the chin of Townsel is going downhill but we will find out for sure in this fight because Bercier will find his chin if the fight extends at all. The slightest of edges goes Bercier but be extra careful betting this one.
Matt Russo vs Justin Street
Prelim Flyweight Bout
This is a fight where we will be able to tell how good Matt Russo really is. He's taking on the debuting Justin Street and will likely be favored due to his experience but Street has more professional fights under his belt. Sure they're in MMA and he's never been professionally hit without four ounce gloves but all of his wins (four) have come by T/KO and he'll be slightly bigger than Rambo. Russo is very accurate with his punches but as a rising prospect, he has not fought the highest level of competition. He's done exactly what he's supposed to do against that level of fighters which is finish them in round one so this is no slight against the 28-year-old.
Justin Street has been working out of a gym call Stars and Strikes with an obvious focus on striking and specifically with Street, punches. Both fighters have proven chins that have been heavily tested as well. The aggression from Russo might bite him here. Street is excellent with counters and especially when Russo gets hit, he sees red and comes forward recklessly. If Street ends up being a betting dog here, no one's going to fault anyone for taking a risky first dog play on the night. Neither fighter here is out until they are unconscious. Russo can get beat up for nine minutes and fifty seconds, then land the fight ending punch. The exact same can be said about Street. Crazy that this is a free prelim fight!
Written By Ryan Dean
*Fight card subject to change