Back in 2021, the first Knucklemania raised awareness that bare knuckle not only wasn’t going anywhere, but had designs on confirming its position among premium combat sports. One year later, on February 19th, Knucklemania II is picking up where Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship left off, and this time the card is even more jammed with stars.
Whereas the first Knucklemania took place among about 3,000 spectators at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland, Florida, this time BKFC doubled the capacity at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, anticipating a larger crowd. After all, another year brought 16 additional BKFC events, which helped fans become familiarized with the participants in a relatively new sport.
Headlining are former UFC standouts Mike “Platinum” Perry and Julian “Let Me Bang” Lane, two volatile and exciting fighters who don’t like one another and already exchanged punches during a scuffle in the crowd for BKFC Fight Night Tampa last December. Both Perry and Lane have very similar elements to their life stories, and both even hint that they might be more alike than it initially appears. Both also say that won’t matter on Saturday.
Perry’s controversial past is indeed behind him, he says, and he’s interested in developing as a person outside the squared circle, and showcasing new skills inside. But Perry, 1-0 in bare knuckle, must overcome a serious experience disadvantage against Lane, who sports a 4-5 record. Lane has designs on a title shot in BKFC, and the only way is through Perry.
At the official Knucklemania II press conference, Lane said, “Mike Perry’s got some karma coming Saturday night, and he’s going to sleep.”
“Yeah, I’m going to sleep, after I knock you out,” Perry quickly answered, drawing several laughs. “Going to the hotel and going to sleep.”
The BKFC lightweight championship is at stake between Luis “Baboon” Palomino and Martin “Smash” Brown in the co-feature. No bad blood is necessary in this matchup. Palomino, the undefeated champion, defends his title against Brown, the worthy top contender who is likewise unvanquished, and not to mention battle-tested.
Palomino, 5-0, fought 10 full bare knuckle rounds in 2021. On the other hand, Brown scored a stoppage in a fight where he severely injured his knee, plus won a separate five-round war. The two best fighters in a competitive division square off, and while both easy to root for, they can’t both win. At Knucklemania II, one will emerge the champion, the other will experience their first bare knuckle loss.
Also on the stacked card, former UFC star Chad “Money” Mendes returns from retirement to make his bare knuckle debut against lightweight Joshua Álvarez, aka Famez. Mendes brings with him championship-level mixed martial arts experience, and he says being able to work on just his hands for this fight led to a particularly fun and focused training camp.
Famez, 1-1 in BKFC, says this camp has been different, too. The successful recording artist claims he managed to avoid distractions. “A lot of people are gonna be shocked,“ Famez said at the press conference. “The world is gonna be shocked.”
The other championship bout on the card is the rematch we’ve waited nearly three years for, between Christine “Misfit” Ferea and Britain Hart, aka Britain Beltran. The winner will be crowned the inaugural BKFC women’s flyweight champion, and the fight will end years of arguing about who truly deserves the throne.
Both Ferea and Hart have fought with BKFC since 2018—through wins, losses and life changes. Both have come to embody the spirit of bare knuckle. Neither has shown any sign of backing down heading into February 19th. Hart captivated audiences at the first Knucklemania, and they’re back to see what happens now that a title is on the line.
“We’re definitely OGs and I’m happy we get this chance,” Hart remarked at the press conference. “I’m tired of people underestimating me, I’m tired of being the underdog. A title would shut everybody up again.”
Ferea responded, “They ran their mouths her whole camp, and they have nothing to say in person. I’m retiring her.”
Heavyweight Gustavo Trujillo has a showdown with Stephen Townsel in the only heavyweight fight of the evening. Trujillo, 3-0, climbs in with Townsel, who is 1-1 in bare knuckle and looking to return from a surprise 1st round TKO loss in late 2021. Meanwhile, Trujillo fought only once last year, but scored a one-punch knockout of Mike Kyle that served as a reminder of why fans wanted him back.
After a successful bare knuckle debut at BKFC Fight Night Montana, flyweight Jade Masson-Wong returns to face debuting Christine Vicens. While only 1-0, Masson-Wong has both mixed martial arts and kickboxing experience. Beyond that, she demonstrated serious grit in her only victory. Vicens comes to BKFC with amateur boxing experience at the national level, as well as some kickboxing.
Promising unbeaten middleweight Francesco Ricchi puts his 3-0 record up against London’s Jake “Brutal” Bostwick, who is 1-1 in bare knuckle in addition to his accomplished MMA career. Ricchi has three stoppages in three fights, and defeat of Bostwick would make him impossible to ignore. Bostwick is always in the gym, and his recent work with Jake Paul and Logan Paul can only have improved his hands.
Uly “Monster” Diaz, 2-1, scored a shockingingly fast knockout of Doniele Benedetto at BKFC 14. It took only three seconds for Diaz to become a sensation. Sawyer Depee, Diaz’s opponent, steps in to be a late replacement for Melvin Guillard. The move earned Diaz’s respect at the press conference, though Diaz has said he doesn’t have time for bad mouthing anyone. Depee, a light heavyweight who brings with him a 1-0 record, looks to stop Diaz right in his tracks.
The final bout of the main card is between featherweights Egard Plazaola and Chevvy Bridges. Unbeaten in MMA, Plazaola makes his bare knuckle debut while the 1-0 Bridges bounces off a TKO win at BKFC Fight Night Wichita.
On the free preliminary portion of Knucklemania II, three fights open the broadcast to whet viewers’ appetite. First, middleweights John Michael Escoboza and Zion Tomlinson feature in an interesting clash. Escoboza, a champion in another bare knuckle organization, is undefeated at 5-0 outside of BKFC, and Tomlinson is basically a veteran himself at 2-1 despite being only 22. It may end up a crossroads matchup, but it’s certain to entertain.
Middleweights Mario Vargas and Yosdenis Cedeno pair up as well, with Vargas debuting as Cedeno enters at 1-0. Cedeno’s only bare knuckle win came as a split decision at BKFC 18, though both fighters have MMA experience.
Finally, another featherweight fight rounds out the prelims, between undefeated Howard Davis and 1-1 Joe Pegg. Davis, who is 1-0 in BKFC but 2-0 in bare knuckle overall, scored a decision at BKFC 22 and may open up the huge card with a bang.
There are 12 fights on this Knucklemania, just like the first one. But BKFC upped the ante with two championship fights and a host of combatants ready for war and thirsty for glory. It’s the biggest event yet from the fastest-growing combat sport in the world. With huge signings looming BKFC likely expanding in the near future, all eyes are on Knucklemania II.
Follow Patrick Connor on Twitter: @PatrickMConnor
Stay tuned for Knucklemania 2 card updates, interviews and more!
Don’t forget to check out Ungloved: The Road to Knucklemania 2 Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3 and Episode 4!
Order and watch Knucklemania 2 for only $4.99 at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific on February 19th by clicking here.