Canada's Devin Gibson suffers first loss in Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Devin (The Canadian Assassin) Gibson suffered his first loss as a bare knuckle fighter Friday night, beaten by American Albert Inclan at BKFC 35.

The judges scored it 50-44, 49-45 and 48-46 for Inclan, who grew stronger as the fight wore on to improve to 1-1-0 in the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship.

Gibson was left with a 2-1-0 record and an ugly moon-shaped gash below his left eye.

The 28-year-old from Sarnia, Ont., scored with his left hand throughout the first round. But Inclan soon found his rhythm and caught Gibson late in the second round with a straight left that knocked out his mouthpiece.

The third round was halted briefly so the ringside physician could look at Gibson's cut. The fight continued and Inclan dropped Gibson with a counter right. Gibson bounced straight back to his feet.

"We've got two rounds, we need them both big," Gibson was told in his corner after the round.

Gibson lost his mouthpiece again in the fourth round as Inclan was the busier fighter.

"I need you to put this man on his ass," Gibson was told before the final round. While game for the challenge, Gibson could not find a way to dispatch Inclan, who had a small cut near his eye.

Inclan landed 71 of 171 punches while Gibson was good on 66 of 93, according to the BKFC.

Referee Sean Woods told the fighters to "Knuckle up" when he wanted more action.

The main event at the John T. Rhodes Sports Center was a matchup of unbeaten welterweights in Macedonia's Gorjan (GoGo) Slaveski (4-0-0) and Cuba's Yosdenis (Pink Panther) Cedeno (2-0-0).

Bare knuckle fighting is not for everyone. Bouts, which are slated for five two-minute rounds, can end quickly and unpleasantly.

Featherweight Marcus (The Bama Beast) Brimage was left stumbling around the ring after tentatively getting up from a nasty right to the chin that toppled him backwards onto the canvas, ending a 40-second beatdown by 25-year-old Trevor Loken.

The 37-year-old Brimage, who has an 8-7-0 MMA, has seen better days.

He fought eight times in the UFC from 2011 to 2015. He won his first thee UFC fights then lost four of the next five, including a 67-second TKO at the hands of (The Notorious) Conor McGregor in the Irish star's UFC debut in April 2103.

Brimage has lost his last five MMA outings.

Heavyweight Willie Sears won despite finishing his fight face down on the canvas, with a mouse the size of a golf ball around his right eye, after Tomar Washingon was disqualified for an illegal grounded punch on a grounded opponent. Absorbing a flurry of blows, Sears was ruled to have had a knee on the canvas as Washington swung away.

The fight was called 57 seconds into the second round, with the 44-year-old Washington stunned as the decision was announced. The 38-year-old Sears had already left the ring.

Gibson and Inclan were slated to fight as flyweights (125 pounds). But the bout went off as a bantamweight affair with both fighters weighing in at around 130 pounds.

Inclan had plenty to say as the two fighters squared off at Friday's weigh-in, using expletives to describes what he had planned for the Canadian. "See you tomorrow," responded a smiling Gibson, wearing a Maple Leaf bandana.

Gibson stopped American Kody (The Black Rose) Murray in the fourth round last time out at BKFC New York 2 in March 2022 in Salamanca, N.Y. His first fight in the promotion was a decision win over Ray Lopez at BKFC Fight Night: New York in November 2021 in Seneca, N.Y.

Gibson and welterweight Jake Young of London, Ont., are currently the only Canadians among the some 220 fighters under contract to the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, which boasts 11 weight classes (nine for men and two for women).

BKFC has attracted fighters from other combat sports including UFC veterans Mike (Platinum) Perry, Ben Rothwell, John (The Magician) Dodson, Greg (Prince of War) Hardy and Alan (The Talent) Belcher, as well as Muay Thai stars Sombat (Buakaw) Banchamek and Suphachai (Saenchai) Saepong.

BKFC says only "established professionals" in boxing, MMA, kickboxing or Muay Thai are allowed to compete, with referees and judges also required to have "extensive professional combat sports experience."

BKFC was founded in 2018 by former boxer David Feldman, who sold a majority stake last February to Triller, an American video-sharing social networking service.

It marked its 50th card last year with England, Mexico and Thailand joining the U.S. is hosting events.

Cards sanctioned by local commissions have been held in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York and Wyoming.

Gibson started boxing at 11 and became an Ontario amateur champion, competing nationally with some 50 fights under his belt.

He got into bare-knuckle fighting by accident, after returning to combat sports following several years away.

Gibson was set to make his pro boxing debut in Alabama in early 2021 only to find the fight was off after making weight. A bare-knuckle card was slated for a week later and, after meeting some people involved in the sport, Gibson took part in a BKFC tryout in New York state where he met his future manager, Kevin Smith.

When not training or fighting, Gibson works as a security guard pulling overnight shifts.

Fighters are permitted to wrap and tape the wrist, thumb, and mid-hand, but no gauze or tape can be within one inch (2.5 centimetres) of the knuckles.

Punches are the only strike allowed. In a clinch, a fighter can "punch his way out with the open hand" but the referee steps in if there is a three-second lull in action while clinching.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan, 27, 2023

The Canadian Press