The action was fast and furious at the Rio Rancho Events Center, although by the end of the night only two of 11 fights had gone the distance: five 2-minute rounds. (photo Heron)

“I’m going out with the belt, plain and simple,” Taylor “Killa Bee” Starling told the BKFC network, knowing people tuned in to watch Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 28 on August 27 – “a star chart in front of a crowd massive at the Rio Rancho Events Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The cheering crowd, with a handful of Duke City pugilists on the card, was estimated at around 3,000. BKFC chairman David Feldman said, based on the response, there could be two or three more BKFC events here in 2023.

And Starling came out, okay — maybe even tripped a bit — after finding out how tough women’s flyweight champion Christine Ferea really was. Thus, it was Ferea (6-1) who came out of the Center of Events with that belt, which took 30 seconds or less to retain her title.

Starling with searing right-handed shots from the opening bell, Ferea recorded a knockdown in the first minute, and after a barrage of power shots at Starling, referee Dan Miragliotta called a halt to the onslaught.

Before this fight, which concluded the evening’s 11-fight card, and in order:

  • Jeremy Salceda, (1-0), stopped Roderick Stewart, (0-1), at 1:38 of the second round in a middleweight pairing.
  • In BKFC’s first-ever women’s atomweight bout, Jayme Hinshaw (1-0) proved too much for veteran Cassie Robb (0-3), with a first-round stoppage (1:18).
  • Watson, (1-1) showed no mercy in hitting Kyle McElroy, (0-3), at 1:24 of the first round. McElroy managed to get up from a knockdown, but Watson’s relentless attack put a stop to the action.
  • Josh Moreno, (1-0) stopped Zion Tomlinson Sr. (2-3) midway through the second round after the referee ruled Tomlinson unable to continue in the middleweight bout.
  • Tony ‘Loco’ Soto, (3-0) held up his brash speech at the weigh-in by stopping Joshua Morales, (0-1), in the third round (1:49) of their lightweight clash.
  • In the featherweight division, Eric Dodson (1-0) needed just 23 seconds to get rid of Nick Villar (0-3-1), dropping him to the canvas with two big right hands.
  • In the middleweight division, southpaw Will Santiago (1-0) knocked down Jake Young (1-1) four times in the first round with massive left-handed shots; Young did not come out for the second stanza.
  • In the middleweight division, Jeremy ‘Pitbull’ Smith (2-0) dominated for five rounds against local favorite Donald Sanchez (0-1). The scores at the end of the fight were unanimous for Smith, 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46.
  • In the star fight of the night, Brad “‘Machine Gun” Kelly (3-1) of Mississippi proved too strong and too heavy for Isaac Valle-Flagg of Albuquerque (3-2). After a dominant first round, Kelly tracked down and beat Valle-Flagg, who tried to work the inside. However, Kelly used a solid jab and big left hooks to keep scoring. Scores after five rounds of welterweight action were 50-44 on all three judges’ scorecards (plus the Observer) for Kelly.
  • Another local favorite, John “The Magician” Dodson (1-0) wasted no time against Dallas’ Ryan Benoit (0-1), with two knockdowns in the first round. Using his superior hand and better foot speed, Dodson overwhelmed Benoit, bleeding profusely as the fight was stopped at the mark: 40 of the opening stanza of their bantamweight bout.

It gave the Dodson brothers wins in 63 seconds of combined action.