Article by: Ben Fowlkes
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Joey Beltran knew he was in for a tough night of work the moment he was matched up against Tony Lopez in the debut event of Bare Knuckle FC.
As for whether or not the UFC and Bellator vet knew he’d end the night soaked in blood – some Lopez’s, some his own – well, let’s just say he had a pretty good idea that it could go that direction.
“That’s exactly what I expected,” Beltran told MMAjunkie after Saturday’s unanimous-decision victory at the Cheyenne Ice & Events Center in Cheyenne, Wyo. “This is the third time Tony and I have fought, the second time we went the full five rounds. The last time we fought for the King of the Cage title back in 2009. Sh-t was exactly the same except with kicks and takedowns.”
While Beltran emerged the winner at Bare Knuckle FC 1, it was Lopez who got the better of their prior meetings in MMA. That’s why, Beltran said, he knew not to get overly excited when he knocked down Lopez in the opening round of Saturday’s bout.
“I dropped him in the first round of our last fight,” Beltran said. “He f-cking came back, like I knew he would, which is exciting.”
That comeback helped Lopez not only battle his way back into the fight, but also test Beltran’s cardio. And, as Beltran admitted after the fight, he didn’t exactly do the best job preparing his body to fight at 6,000 feet.
“It wasn’t until last week, driving in my car and I thought, ‘Hmm, I wonder what the elevation is in Wyoming?’” Beltran said. “Six-thousand feet?! Oh, you f-cking idiot, Joey. I’ve known about this fight for like a month.”
Still, Beltran said he knew he could fight “in zombie mode” if he had to, which came in handy late in the fight as his fists were dripping with blood and Lopez was still coming after him. That performance earned Beltran the win, but it earned them both a standing ovation from the crowd.
As for how it played with those watching at home, and therefore for Bare Knuckle FC’s future on pay-per-view?
“Not to toot my own horn,” Beltran said, “but if as many people were watching as I think were watching, me and Tony did a f-cking great job.”