The first USA state-sanctioned, bare-knuckle boxing match got a bloody ending on Saturday night – and a big response from a rowdy crowd.
Arnold Adams, a 32-year-old MMA heavyweight, pounded ex-UFC fighter DJ Linderman’s face into a bloody mess in front of 2000 loud and wild fans at a hockey rink that usually hosts birthday parties and skating lessons in Wyoming’s capital.
Adams used an effective left jab to win a technical knockout. The ringside doctor stopped the match after the second round.
Tens of thousands more tuned in for the pay-per-view event, which featured 10 bouts, including four heavyweight fights in a tournament format.
Fans were lined up outside for more than an hour before the first major bare-knuckle event in the US since 1889.
Forrest Peters, from Cheyenne, was among those in attendance. He came to cheer Estevan Payan, who served in the same Army unit as Peters, and to witness history.
“With the bare-knuckle fighting and everything, having them bring it back for the first time in over 100 years, you knew it’s pretty exciting to see,” Peters said.
“And especially having it here in Cheyenne, kinda out here where the West is still a little wild.”
Payan didn’t disappoint, flooring Omar Velar at 1:57 of the opening round of a 145-pound Super Fight.
Winners in the heavyweight division will head to a semi-final event in September, with the final two survivors set to clash in the first legalised bare-knuckle heavyweight championship match later in the year.
The subsequent matches will also be held at the Cheyenne Ice and Events Center since no other state has wanted the sport.
The card also featured legendary underground fighter Bobby Gunn. An all-female match between Bec Rawlings and Alma Garcia was also scheduled.
“Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote, so it’s only fitting that Wyoming should host the first bare-knuckle fight between women,” said Bryan Pedersen, chairman of the Wyoming Sport Combat Commission.
“You can read about history or you can make history, and we’re going to make history tonight.”