Dimitrov Impresses During Bare-Knuckle Debut at BKFC 54

November 20, 2023
3 months

Rosen Dimitrov, 41, had previously made his name in Bulgaria by running his own MMA promotion, TWINS MMA, with his brother Rumen. Being around combat sports has always been important to Rosen Dimitrov, a native of Bulgaria. Dimitrov’s list of accomplishments includes two World Sambo gold medals and a gold medal at the European Sambo championships.

Dimitrov also compiled a 35-5 record in the octagon, but he hadn’t had a competitive fight since retiring in 2019. However, MMA news sites showed there were no signs of ring rust when he fought at BKFC 54. Fighting against Todor Zhelyazkov at middleweight, Dimitrov won by knockout despite being the less active fighter.

Zhelyazkov threw 40 more attempts than Dimitrov before being knocked out in the second round. Dimitrov landed 60.6 percent of his punches (43 of 71) during the bout. This event featured plenty of former MMA fighters and local talent who battled hard to try and make a name in the BKFC.

Shoe Malfunction Leads to Victory for Kolev

It’s hard to imagine that BKFC 55, which was held in England the night after BKFC 54, could measure up to the zaniness of what happened during the fight between Kaloyan Kolev and Amer Abdulnabi. The fight was stopped 57 seconds into the first round because of a shoe malfunction.

Abdulnabi’s shoe came apart during the bout. His corner worked furiously to try and fix the problem. In a photo circulated by many MMA news sites, there was one staffer who had a can of Coca-Cola, hoping the stickiness of the soda would help the shoes stick together. When the shoes couldn’t be repaired, Kolev was awarded the victory in his debut.

Kolev, who had appeared on Dana White’s Contender Series during his MMA career, had found success early in his first bare-knuckle fight. Kolev had landed 85.7 percent (6 of 7) of his attempts before the fight was waved off.

Valentinov Makes Successful Debut

It’s hard to tell what skills will translate when someone makes the transition from MMA to bare-knuckle boxing. Going from wearing 4-ounce gloves to no gloves at all can make a major impact on a fighter. Following MMA breaking news will show that Georgi Valentinov was primarily a points fighter during his time with various MMA organizations. Fifteen of his career 22 victories in MMA came via decision.

That’s how Valentinov’s bare-knuckle boxing career would start, too. Valentinov defeated Bojan Kosednar by decision. He outlasted Kosednar in a low-output decision. During the fight, Valentinov landed 52.8 percent of his strikes while only attempting 72. Kosednar only attempted 66 and landed 37.9 percent.

Valentinov had his shot at fighting for a major MMA promotion derailed by his association with a gang of soccer hooligans. During a Euro 2020 qualifier, the match between England and Bulgaria was halted twice due to racial abuse directed at the players. Valentinov was seen sitting alongside Sofia West hooligans and making racist chants and gestures.

Valentinov said the gestures were being misinterpreted.

Kanchev Handles Replacement Opponent Well

Making a debut in a new sport can be a nerve-wracking endeavor for any fighter. But Vladislav Kanchev said he was ready for any challenge. Kanchev, who went 13-7 during his time with various MMA promotions, was supposed to fight Wilhelm Ott during his BKFC debut.

However, Ott was forced to pull out of the fight. Instead, Kanchev, a Bulgaria native, was forced to fight Ilyas Sadykov. It proved to not be too much of a challenge for Kanchev. He would end up scoring a knockout 54 seconds into the fight. Kanchev only needed to land 11 strikes to pick up the win.

Egyptian Fighter Grabs Victory

Mahmoud Ahmed wanted to make a good impression on the fight world. Without much being known about his combat sports background, Ahmed was able to scrape out an impressive decision win over Florin Lupu. Lupu, a Romanian fighter, could keep up with the Egyptian fighter’s patience.

Ahmed threw 101 punches and landed 49.5 percent of his punches. Lupu was only able to land 36 punches, but he did score two knockdowns. Ahmed was able to match him in the power department. Ahmed ended up scoring five knockdowns during the duration of the fight. Ahmed’s power advantage helped him earn the decision victory in his debut.

With this being the early days of BKFC, fights like this will be common. Since not many professional bare-knuckle organizations existed before the last few years, it will be hard to tell how some of these fighters will react to a set of professional rules.

Many of these guys likely have plenty of experience fighting with their bare knuckles in a street fight. But this is a much different environment for many of the people who are involved with the event.

Ivanov May Have Found Home in BKFC

Veselin Ivanov was never going to make it in mixed martial arts. When it came to grappling, Ivanov was completely overmatched by most of his opponents. During his time in various regional MMA promotions, Ivanov compiled an 8-10-1 record. Those fights would end up seeing him lose five fights by submission.

While Ivanov did win two bouts by submission, it was clear his skills weren’t up to standard to be competitive in modern MMA. What Ivanov demonstrated during his time in bare-knuckle boxing is that he carries some dynamite in his hands. Italian Marco Guistarini landed more punches than Ivanov during their fight at BKFC 54.

However, Guistarini didn’t have the chin to hang with Ivanov. Ivanov would end up landing a blistering punch in the third round that put him out of the fight. Guistarini, who was 4-4 as an MMA fighter, may have actually been a better grappler. He won three of his four MMA fights by submission.

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