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April 8, 2024

Knuckle Up News | BKFC Fight Night Clearwater: Richman vs Lozano

The roots of bare-knuckle fighting run deep in the UK and whenever the leading BK promotion travels across the pond, it's all fireworks.

Clearwater will host some very well matched fights where the outcomes could be just as unpredictable as last weekend, so we need to take a close look at each fighter's skills and weak spots. We have nine fights to run through with no prelims slated, so let's get right into it.

Mike Richman vs Erick Lozano
Light Heavyweight Main Event

Mike Richman is one of two MMA veterans headlining Clearwater and unlike his opponent, he has a pretty dominant record of 18-8 in the sport. He looked unbeatable in bare-knuckle until he ran into Lorenzo Hunt. Keep in mind that all of Richman's losses came by current champions, Hunt and Dave Mundell. He is pretty low volume but extremely accurate and powerful. That power and accuracy had the pound for pound number one dead to rights when they squared up but Lorenzo Hunt was able to get back up after being dropped and end the fight. Richman is going to plod forward and go head hunting until one of these two drops.

Erick Lozano is far more talented and dangerous than his record would state. In his MMA days, he went on a long run but his record ended up landing at 14-23 with a lot of those losses coming toward the end of that run. He may take more MMA fights in the future as he has been juggling MMA and BK since his first BK fight in 2020. Lozano is 2-2 in the BKFC having fought the highest levels of competition including Lorenzo Hunt and Jake Bostwick. He seems to get more calculated and accurate the longer the fight goes so keep that in mind if you see this fight going long. His preferred strike is an overhand right led by a jab and he will often look to counter strike.

Paths to Victory

As mentioned, both fighters fought Lorenzo Hunt and both were knocked out by him but they were two very different fights. Richman had the double champ in the most trouble he had ever been in and out struck him as well. Lozano was dominated from bell to third round knockout by the same guy but it was his very first fight for the promotion. It may sound like I'm counting Lozano out but I'm not in any way shape or form. Lozano is as game as they come! The 41 year old has continued taking MMA fights in between BKFC bouts because he just loves fighting that much. On the other hand, Richman had actually retired after two devastating knockouts where he had dropped his opponent just before. It's almost like Richman takes his foot off of the gas when he has his opponent in trouble and that's not going to work against Lozano. Both fighters have different styles with Richman being the calculated aggressor with sniper-like accuracy while Lozano will wing more punches, crash the pocket and throw caution to the wind. Despite being the older man by three years, Lozano fights like the younger one.

For Richman, his edge comes early. He doesn't really fade much but his best rounds will be rounds one or two where I think he has a solid chance of a knockout. He has the power edge, the accuracy edge and the higher fight IQ early on. The longer the fight goes, the more worried you should be if you're holding a Richman ticket.

In Lozano's case, he will get rolling downhill should this fight go long and his knockout win chances skyrocket round after round. His fights are much more unpredictable than his opponent's here and that is his biggest asset in the bout. Control the chaos and keep the eyes on the prize until the fight is over since Richman mentally fades after he has success.

Ja'Far Fortt vs Elvin Brito
Welterweight Co-Main Bout

Ja'Far Fortt is the younger, bigger, undefeated bare-knuckle fighter but Brito is a tried and true veteran along with the BKFC's first welterweight champion. All of Brito's losses have come by very high-level fighters like Palomino and Trinidad-Snake. He also trains with Lorenzo Hunt who has all kinds of ties in with this card. Fortt is going to use his reach and accuracy to touch up Brito who is by far, his toughest test to date. Brito, being quite a bit shorter here, will have to crash the pocket and use his mental as much as his physical to outland Fortt. Both fighters have a tall task here and with a fight that likely ends inside the distance you have to wonder if Fortt's patient style will work for him here. I want to see Brito throw right when he hears "knuckle up," and give zero respect to Fortt's strikes. He needs to catch Fortt immediately and not let him establish his excellent jab early on. Fortt's chin has been cracked at least four times in MMA and hasn't really been tested in the BKFC. Brito has only been KO'd once in his four BKFC losses.

JR Ridge vs Tyler Randall
Flyweight Feature Bout

Both fighters have fought a good level of competition as ranked flyweights should have but anytime you have spent time with John Dodson in the Squared Circle, you have an edge. JR Ridge didn't just get knocked out in 30 seconds against Dodson in the inaugural flyweight title fight either, he got some licks in. No disrespect whatsoever to Randall but this is a major step down in competition for Ridge. One common opponent they have is Chancey Wilson and they both went the distance but Ridge dominated and Randall arguably lost despite being awarded a split decision. The crowd at BKFC 38 certainly thought Wilson defeated Randall so if you believe in fight karma, Randall might be owed a loss. I'm also concerned with the pull-outs lately for Randall. Whether he is the one pulling out of fights or not, a number of his last few fights fell through including a main event opportunity on a historic first ever card in Canada against a beatable opponent. Ridge should be a favorite here and I think he's tough to beat coming off of a loss. Ridge is going to get in Randall's face and Randall will try to keep this at distance.

Abdiel Velazquez vs Travis Thompson
Bantamweight Bout

We have a couple of BKFC OGs here with both fighters having fought on early BKFC cards. In Thompson's case, he faced Reggie Barnett Jr. (9-3 former champ) at BKFC 1 and Velazquez faced Shawn West (0-1) at BKFC 3. A fun fact about this that is going to be undermentioned, is that this fight is a rematch from BKFC 6 where Velazquez won via unanimous decision. Since then Thompson has gone on to be more active and while holding an even record. The Puerto Rican in Velazquez holds a 3-4 record heading into fight night and has actually fought almost everyone that Thompson has fought. These two are going to be very evenly match but I see Thompson as more of a dog. This fight should go the distance with two technical boxers at bantamweight and as we know, rematches tend to never go the same way if the pair is so close in skill level like we see here. This seems to be the toughest fight to bet on the night and I see a split decision incoming one way or the other.

Mike Heckert vs Leonel Carerra
Middleweight Bout

Mike Heckert looked really good in his debut performance against the strong and more technical boxer, Scott Lampert. He faces another boxer with less experience but more evenly matched as far as their physique and body types go. Heckert comes from the MMA world and uses more blitzing style punches in bunches with some solid counter punches and a nasty jab. That jab was what knocked Scott Lampert down three times in just two rounds. Carerra will have a slight height advantage over Heckert but Heckert will look bigger in there. Carerra had an underwhelming debut performance back in 2022 and has not fought since then. Before that he had not fought since 2012 which leads me to believe he may not take this as serious as Heckert does. That doesn't mean he won't try or he won't come out on top here but it feels like he is against the odds a bit.

Jessica Borga vs Katharina Lehner
Women's Featherweight Bout

A lot of the BKFC fans really appreciate when a couple of attractive women throw hands in the Squared Circle and this matchup isn't going to disappoint those folks. We have two mixed martial artists but Borga has faced a slightly higher level of competition outside of the BKFC and has one bare-knuckle bout under her belt which she won by TKO in round one. Lehner may be the more technical boxer but in women's combat sports, physicality and toughness goes a long way and Borga has this in spades. That's not to say Lehner isn't tough because she very much is, but the German tends to go the distance in her fights where Borga is a finisher. I do like the significant experience edge for Lehner where she sits at 8-5 in MMA when Borga has an upside down record of 3-7. She's got more wins than Borga has fights. Borga is going to look to make this gritty and Lehner will try to stay at distance and pump out that jab for 10 minutes. We have seen Borga eat a pretty nasty 1-2 so for Lehner to come out on top here, she is going to fight smart and focus on defense.

Jay Jackson vs Idrees Wasi
Middleweight Bout

I really like the experience edge that Jackson has and if you're a conspiracy theorist like myself who looks into and believes in numerical patterns, Jackson is due a win. Since he began fighting for the promotion in 2021, he has alternated wins and losses. Coming off of a loss, well, I don't have to spell it out here. Idrees is on a two-fight skid and his only BKFC win to date was over the 0-5 John McAllister. His losses were delivered by opponents who are on a very similar level as Jackson while Jackson's losses are to ranked opponents with the exception of Marcus Edwards. I think Jackson fights smarter so Wasi will need to embrace who he is and that's a tough power puncher that does not respect his opponent. Very tough fight to call and looking into their MMA records you will see that they both really struggled to the submission, so they are two strikers with very similar styles.

Quentin Gaskins vs Zach Pannell
Featherweight Bout

In the curtain-jerker fight of the night, Zach Pannell welcomes the debuting Quentin Gaskins who crosses over from the MMA world with a boxing fight under his belt. Pannell seems to match his opponents on strikes attempted but is very accurate and quite powerful for 145. Gaskins will need to really focus on defense in the opening round. He needs to stay light on his feet and really keep his head off of the centerline because Pannell can easily knock out a non-moving target as he did in his debut against Kasey Yates. In that fight he threw 52 strikes and landed 35 of them so DEFENSE, DEFENSE and DEFENSE are paramount for Gaskins. Gaskins is on a skid in his combat sports career but has a real opportunity to turn it around. It will be a challenge for Gaskins because Pannell feels at home in the BKFC and wants to make a run to the title held by Kai Stewart. Pannell has gone on record saying he wants a first round stoppage.

Written by Ryan Dean
*Fight card subject to change