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Watson and Santiago Represent New England at BKFC: Knucklemania 3

Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"

David Feldman's Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship returns to action Friday night from the Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque, New Mexico with the most highly anticipated Bare Knuckle event of the year; Knucklemania 3: Hunt vs. Richman. Headlining the sports biggest draw of the year; two Champions; Lorenzo "The Juggernaut" Hunt (9-1 Bare Knuckle, 8-1 BKFC) looks to retain his Light-Heavyweight strap when he finally meets interim Light-Heavyweight Champion Mike "The Marine" Richman (5-0-1 Bare Knuckle, 4-0 BKFC) inside the squared circle.

One look at the Knucklemania 3 fightcard and the depth of talent becomes evident; UFC Legend Diego "Nightmare" Sanchez (30-14 MMA) makes his BKFC debut against fellow debutant Austin "No Doubt" Trout (36-5-1 Pro Boxing), two time UFC Flyweight title Challenger; John "The Magician" Dodson (1-0 BKFC) makes his return against former BKFC Bantamweight title challenger; Jarod "Kid Gatti" Grant (5-1 BKFC) and former CES MMA Featherweight Title Challenger (vs. Matt Bessette at CES 41) turned UFC Featherweight; Kevin (I refuse to stop calling him) "The Hard Hitting Hillbilly" Croom (1-0 BKFC) seeks his second BKFC victory against Chevvy "Wild Man" Bridges (1-1, BKFC), but that is not where the New England MMA ties stop at Friday Night's Knucklemania.

Two New England MMA veterans find themselves right in the mix, on Bare Knuckle's grandest stage at Knucklemania 3 as Lawrence, Massachusetts native, turned Albuquerque, New Mexico resident; Will "The Brown Bomber" Santiago (1-0 BKFC) meets seven time Bare Knuckle veteran; Noah Cutter (3-4 BKFC). Santiago paved his way from 2-0 Amateur in 2010 to challenging for the CES MMA Welterweight title in 2017 (vs. Chris Curtis at CES 42) fighting for New England promotions; Combat Zone, Cage Titans and CES before being called to Dana White's Contenders Series in 2018. Santiago's Unanimous Decision loss to now UFC Welterweight Kevin Holland (23-9) on the Contenders Series sent the now JacksonWink product into a three fight tailspin before signing with the BKFC in 2022.

"The Brown Bomber" made his BKFC debut a successful one at BKFC 28 retiring Jake Young (0-3 Bare Knuckle) after just one round of one way traffic. Santiago returns to the squared circle Friday night where he hopes to make it 2-0 against "free handed Floridian" Noah Cutter in a Welterweight affair on the Knucklemania 3 main card.

But that's not all New England MMA fans will have to look forward to Friday night. Casual New England MMA fans may have to do a little digging on our next New England representative who graduated from Bonny Eagle High School (Maine) in 2001, but OG GFL and NEF fans will remember the name; Josh "Stay Down" Watson (6-4 MMA, 1-1 BKFC). Having squared off with some of New England's best 'big men' during his MMA career, Syndicate MMA's (Las Vegas, Nevada) Heavyweight Josh Watson finds himself in the biggest spot of his combat sports career Friday night when he meets former UFC Heavyweight and NFL star Greg Hardy (7-5 MMA), in what will be Hardy's Bare Knuckle debut.

American Top Team's Hardy spent parts of six NFL seasons with both the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys before spreading his wings into the combat sports realm where he compiled a 7-5 professional MMA record and a 2-0 Boxing record. Hardy would fight 10 times inside the UFC cage before a string of three straight losses lead to his exile from the promotion. Hardy signed with the BKFC in 2022 and combat sports fans have anxiously awaited his Bare Knuckle debut, which comes here, Friday night on the sports biggest stage, at Knucklemania 3. One thing is for certain; Hardy is in for a brutal welcome to the squared circle when he toes the line with notorious finisher Josh Watson in a Heavyweight slugfest. All seven of Watson's career wins have come by way of stoppage, and if he can add number 8 Friday against Hardy, Watson will find himself underneath the biggest spotlight of his combat sports career.

Fans wishing to tune into BKFC: Knucklemania 3 Friday night cheer on Josh and Will as they represent New England in the Bare Knuckle "Super Bowl" can tune into or the BKFC app and purchase the pay-per-view event for just $7.99. Main Card begins at 9 pm Eastern Time this Friday night, don't miss it!

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