Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship OK'd, but Sanchez-Trout main event isn't - Albuquerque Journal

Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship OK’d, but Sanchez-Trout main event isn’t

The New Mexico Athletic Commission on Wednesday approved a Feb. 17 Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship card at Tingley Coliseum.

Concerns were raised, however, about the BKFC’s proposed main event between New Mexico combat-sports icons Diego Sanchez, 40, and Austin Trout, 37.

Though the event was approved, NMAC Chairman Joe Chavez said, the main event is not at this point.

Commissioner Jerome O’Connell, a Las Cruces attorney, voted against approval of the event because of concerns about Sanchez’s fitness to continue fighting after a 20-year, 44-fight MMA career. Chavez and commissioner Ed Manzanares, a senior associate athletic director at UNM, voted to approve the event.

Diego Sanchez is shown in this undated Journal file photo.

O’Connell cited a 2016 article that quoted Sanchez himself as expressing concerns about head trauma.

“With all due respect to Mr. Sanchez … I just need to say on this fight, I cannot support it,” O’Connell said.

Sanchez, who attended Wednesday’s commission meeting at the Pit, defended his fitness to fight.

“In my entire career, I have never ever sustained not one injury that required me to be hospitalized or even stay the night in the hospital,” the Albuquerque fighter said. He has undergone neurological testing at a clinic in Dallas, he said, in an attempt to refute internet gossip and hearsay about his fitness.

Sanchez said that when he spoke about head trauma in 2016, he was being controlled and misled by his coach at the time.

Albuquerque’s Ricky Kottenstette, Sanchez’s agent, said he would supply the commission with results of MRIs and other neurological tests.

“We’re confident that (the tests) will show no issues,” Kottenstette said.

Sanchez was released from his UFC contract in April 2021 after 15 years with MMA’s most influential promoter, in part, UFC President Dana White said, for failure to provide information assuring the organization that Sanchez was fit to compete.

Sanchez and Kottenstette said bare-knuckle fighting as staged by the BKFC actually exposes fighters to less risk of head trauma than boxing or MMA because the fights consist of five two-minute rounds.

Typically, MMA fights consist of three or five five-minute rounds.

Chavez said that as a matter of course, any combat-sports contestant age 36 or over would be required to undergo enhanced medical scrutiny before being approved to compete.

The Feb. 17 main event, if approved, would match fighters making their bare-knuckle debuts.

Trout, a former world boxing champion from Las Cruces, has a 36-5-1 record in the ring. He’s been boxing professionally since 2005 and had an extensive amateur career before that. Trout fought as recently as Dec. 9, when he defeated Mexico’s Jose Sanchez Charles by unanimous decision in Hidalgo, Texas.

Trout has never been knocked out during his career, though he’s been knocked down several times. He has been stopped short of the prescribed distance just once, when trainer Louie Burke stopped the world title fight after 10 rounds due to dehydration in a loss to Jarrett Hurd in October 2017.

Trout now lives and trains in Houston.

Sanchez (30-14) last fought on March 11, losing by unanimous decision to Kevin Lee on an Eagle FC MMA card in Miami.

HOLM SCHEDULED: Albuquerque’s Holly Holm is scheduled for a return to the Octagon on a March 25 UFC card against Russia’s Yana Kunitskaya in San Antonio, Texas.

Both fighters have 14-6 records. Kunitskaya is a former teammate of Holm’s at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Wink MMA.

Holm last fought on May 21, losing a disputed split decision to Brazil’s Ketlen Vieira.

BOXING: The NMAC on Wednesday approved a Feb. 4 boxing event at Revel Entertainment Center, with Albuquerque super flyweight Matthew Griego (12-0, eight knockouts) in the main event against Puerto Rico’s Bryan Aquino (12-2, six KOs).Â

Also on the card, as announced: welterweight Josh Torres (24-7-2, 14 KOs), middleweight Jordanne Garcia (4-1-2) and super bantamweight Justice Jiron (1-0), all of Albuquerque.

Home » From the newspaper » Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship OK’d, but Sanchez-Trout main event isn’t

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