The Dotson Brothers make quick work of enemies
While the long-term plan may well include a return to mixed martial arts, the bare-knuckle field seems to suit John Dodson just fine.
The two-time UFC flyweight title challenger put on an electric performance in his Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship debut, knocking out Ryan Benoit just 40 seconds into the first round of their 130-pound co-main event clash at Rio Rancho. Events Center Saturday. night.
BKFC 28 marked the promotion’s first visit to the Land of Enchantment.
“It was amazing to be in the squared circle,” said Dodson, an Albuquerque native and former Moriarty High School wrestler. “It was the most blessed night I could ever have.”
Benoit didn’t have quite the same experience. Dodson invaded his fellow UFC veteran early and often, repeatedly landing his trademark left hand and isolating Benoit on multiple occasions. Every time Benoit got back to his feet, Dodson wasted no time getting back to work, and after the third knockdown, referee Andrew Glenn thankfully called the fight off.
In the official headliner of the night, Christine Ferea (6-1) defended her BKFC flyweight crown with relative ease in a quick win over Taylor Starling. The fight was halted 47 seconds into the first round when Starling (3-1) elected not to continue.
“We train hard, we do our best. Sometimes people can’t go all the way,” Ferea said. “I was going to make her uncomfortable and be more aggressive.”
Starling appeared to land a solid shot on an early rally, but things went downhill from there for the native of Rock Hill, South Carolina. Ferea responded by sending Starling to the canvas with a flurry of punches. In the moments after the knockdown, a visibly distraught Starling could be seen talking in her corner before scrambling to her feet. When the action resumed, Ferea only needed a few more punches before Starling called her name.
“It was too much. It was a lot,” Starling said. “She was strong, she was tough, she hit hard.”
Earlier, Mississippi native Brad Kelly (3-1) beat UFC veteran and Albuquerque resident Isaac Vallie-Flagg (3-2) for the better part of five rounds to capture a 165 unanimous decision. books. The three judges submitted 50 to 44 scorecards in favor of Kelly.
Kelly was quicker to the punch than Vallie-Flagg in the rallies as he landed strong combinations to the head and body on multiple occasions. The fighters clinched multiple times, and Kelly got the better of the action there as well with short punches in close quarters and heavier punches when they split. Kelly punctuated his victory by dropping his opponent to his knees in round five, but the durable Vallie-Flagg recovered enough to make it to the final bell.
South Africa’s Jeremy Smith disappointed the vociferous contingent of fans in attendance to support Donald Sanchez, as he captured a clear unanimous decision against the Albuquerque native at 185lbs. Smith (2-1) received scorecards of 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46 from the judges to spoil Sanchez’s first unarmed appearance.
Forward pressure and superior volume were keys to Smith’s success. Sanchez, a 51-fight MMA veteran, took a measured approach as he rotated and waited for opportunities to counter. Sanchez upped his aggression in round 5 and caused a swelling near his opponent’s left eye with well-timed counters. However, it was too little, too late, as Smith was the busiest fighter for the majority of the contest.
Elsewhere, Eric Dodson’s bare-knuckle debut couldn’t have been much better, as UFC veteran John’s younger brother beat Nick Villar by knockout just 23 seconds into the first round of their featherweight encounter (145 pounds). Dodson (1-0) cut Villar (0-3-1) with a clean 1-2 combination near the ropes early to put the Dominican Republic native into retirement mode. Moments later, a follow-up right hand sent Villar to the canvas to end the fight in short order.
A 180-pound match between Jackson-Wink MMA’s Will Santiago (1-0) and Wyoming’s Jake Young (0-1) was called off after one round when the ringside doctor determined Young could not continue. Santiago, who has 16 MMA fights on his resume, dropped his opponent three times in the first round, but Young was also hampered by an apparent right leg injury sustained when he fell awkwardly on his own early in the fight.
Brooklyn, New York-based fighter Tony Soto (3-0) stopped Jackson-Wink MMA’s Joshua Morales (0-1) via TKO 1:49 in the third round of their lightweight (155-pound) clash when Morales dropped his hands and asked out of the fight after taking a punch near his eye. Morales was checked by a ringside doctor before the start of the third round but said he wanted to continue before Soto kicked him out shortly after.
Albuquerque’s Josh Moreno (1-0) used forward pressure and consistent combinations to wear down Roanoke, Va., native Zion Tomlinson for a second-round knockout victory at 175 pounds. Moreno knocked his opponent down and landed damaging blows to the body and head before dropping him with a left hand 60 seconds into the second round. Tomlinson couldn’t get up before the 10 count was over.
On the preliminary card, FIT-NHB rep and Albuquerque native Jayme Hinshaw (1-0) thrilled the crowd with a quick finish from Denver’s Cassie Robb (0-3) in an atomweight (105-pound) clash ). Hinshaw was swarming with heavy hooks from the opening bell to put Robb on the defensive immediately. While a bloodied Robb managed to keep her feet, she could do little more than cover as Hinshaw continued his assault, prompting referee David Rios to step in and leave the fight 1:18 into the first round.
In other action: Las Vegas, Nevada native Josh Watson (1-1) rocked, bloodied and dislodged the mouthpiece of Jackson-Wink MMA product Kyle McElroy (0-3) en route to a technical KO 1 triumph :24 in the first round of their heavyweight encounter and Odessa, Texas native Jeremy Sauceda (1-0) beat Roderick Stewart (0-1) by knockout at 1:38 of round two in a 175-pound fight.