Tyler Goodjohn Guts Out A Somewhat Controversial Decision Win For The U.K.

Biloxi, Mississippi-BKFC 15 is officially in the books and three things are for damn sure. Blood has been spilt. Personal business has been handled. Most importantly–key questions have been answered about who is relevant and dangerous in all weight divisions right now. The last BKFC event of 2020 originally had a strong America vs England theme but Covid-19 intervened and poof! British Valor Bare Knuckle Champ Mark Godbeer (13-5 MMA, 3-0 Bare Knuckle) was out of the main event facing Sam Shewmaker (4-1-1 Bare Knuckle) and instead we saw two Americans go to war in a Heavyweight Title Eliminator.

Late replacement Bobo “The Beast” O’Bannon (2-1 Bareknuckle) was clearly taking the opportunity in front of him quite serious. O’Bannon, a country gentleman and a man of Faith, carries himself humbly but is well known for transforming into a marauding war machine (and no, not the one that’s doing time in prison, alright?!) . The fight odds came in fairly neck and neck with Shewmaker only a -200 slight favorite while O’Bannon slid in at +160 as a slight underdog.

I have to say, those opening odds made a lot of sense. Shewmaker’s claim to fame is having one punch knockout power. Such knockout power famously ended Eric Prindle’s night at BKFC 1 in just EIGHTEEN SECONDS. Only problem is Shewmaker hadn’t gotten a KO since, racking up some close split decision wins and even losing a very close split decision at BKFC 3. O’Bannon was coming off a twenty month layoff after tasting victory at BKFC 5, which was admittedly awhile back. All said and done, this seemed like a pick ’em fight on paper.

Bobo O’Bannon certainly had the perfect mindset for handling the pressure of being a late replacement for a high stakes fight. Cool, composed, O’Bannon gave a smirk and a “We got a little something special for that.”, when asked by Commentator Chris Lytle about his answer to Sam Shewmaker’s right hand. O’Bannon went on to reveal that it’s customary of his style to “taste” his opponent’s power.

Far Shot of Shewmaker and O’Bannon in the Squared Circle at BKFC 15

This tactical approach sounds like pure trouble in a Heavyweight bare knuckle fight but there is a method to O’Bannon’s madness. O’Bannon gets in the zone when he’s a little hurt and taking those shots also functions as a “read” that he makes on his opponent. You see, it really comes down to respect. If Bobo O’Bannon is unfazed by your power, he will quickly close in with clubbing hooks to finish you. If you can hurt Bobo–and that’s a big if…he’ll simply raise his guard and work a jab and counter strike until you get complacent. It’s a gamble but has it’s upsides.

Sure enough, “The Beast” indeed tasted Shewmaker’s power. “Hillbilly Hammer” was finding success early landing thudding jabs to the body and straight rights to the head. Nearly one minute into the first round, O’Bannon got dropped with a straight left and a large cut opened on his forehead. O’Bannon got dropped a second time with hooks and overhands. At this point, Shewmaker could see the finish on the horizon.

Shewmaker Calling Out Joey Beltran After Finishing Bobo O’Bannon

Something that is absolutely necessary to acknowledge is the FREAKIN’ CHIN of Bobo O’Bannon! Unearthly durability! Seemingly any other man would wilt so much sooner at the sheer punching volume Shewmaker poured on at the end of Round One. While Shewmaker moves on to a title shot, O’Bannon can rest on his laurels knowing he fought like a true warrior and wait for a new challenge.

Meanwhile, the co-main event had a little more controversy to unpack. British Boxer and porn star Tyler Goodjohn (13-5 Boxing, 4-0 Bare Knuckle) made his U.S. debut with a considerable amount of stressful obstacles to contend with. A positive Covid-19 diagnosis slowed his training down and seemed to have an adverse effect on his energy during the fight. Extensive travel and quarantine after quarantine over the past several weeks did him absolutely no favors.

Circumstances were further complicated by MMA Legend Charles Bennett (30-41-2 MMA, 0-3 Bare Knuckle), who is now on a combined fourteen fight losing streak. Predictably unpredictable, Bennett showed up weirdly on his game in the fight and played the part of a sharp, tricky veteran.

The total strikes landed by both reflected that they were fairly dead even but the judges ultimately saw the fight Goodjohn’s way probably due in part to Goodjohn’s success at knocking Bennett down once and making Bennett fight his pace. Only problem…Bennett seemed happy to fight that pace and found moments of success in the fight that stymied and frustrated the Englishman. Folks, that performance from Bennett is a product of twenty years Pro MMA experience. When all is said and done though, a win is a win for Goodjohn.

But what got people talking was the fact that “Felony” gave Goodjohn more of a go than many thought would be possible. I figured it would be a split decision for either fighter. I personally scored it a draw…so you can imagine why a unanimous judge’s decision for Goodjohn got some side eye from some fans. Still, this was a pretty fun fight and what I think was a fairly revealing preview of Tyler Goodjohn’s general skillset.

Honorable Mention and a shoutout goes to the Women’s Featherweight scrap on the card! “The Tennessee Gangster” Jenny Savage (1-0 Bare Knuckle) made her professional debut and out-brawled the noticeably longer, taller Sheena Starr to get a first round finish. What a gutsy, emotional performance. Watch out for Jenny Savage. So with the last card of 2020 done with, I’m all knuckled up for the year. What did you think of the card?

By Josh Herbold

Fight Historian Bare Knuckle Boxing Media Host of "The Bare Knuckle Half Hour" on the MMA Island Youtube Channel Twitter/Instagram: @jherbsports

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