When Harris Stephenson steps into the Bare Knuckle FC squared-circle on Friday night he will have competed in more fights in Biloxi, Mississippi than any other fighter on the promotion's roster.
A native of the 'Magnolia State,' Stephenson will have a big test ahead of him in former UFC fighter and long-time professional combat sports athlete, Melvin Guillard, but it will mark the sixth time the Southern Mississippi police officer fights bare knuckle in Biloxi.
"This is one of those situations where your idols become your rivals," Stephenson said of the pending Guillard fight.
"14 years ago when I got into fighting in general, I really didn't know what MMA was. I just went to a gym for some boxing classes and saw them advertising MMA. UFC was getting really popular and Melvin Guillard was one of the first guys I watched. I watched that dude sleep people. I was a big fan of Melvin just because of his tenacity and when he did fight, he put it all on the line. For me to sit her 14 years later and square off with him bare knuckle is pretty friggin' amazing. Nerve wracking, but amazing."
Stephenson recorded three wins and two losses in five previous bare knuckle bouts in Biloxi. He was slated to compete last year in Wichita, Kansas but the event was eventually shut down at weigh-ins as the global coronavirus pandemic took off like wildfire.
"I'm gonna be real," Stephenson said in discussing Friday night's contest.
"I don't think I'm going to be able to knock Melvin out. I think I might be able to stop him based on pressure and cardio. I may look for a TKO but it might be later in the fight, like third, fourth, or fifth round. I think my cardio will be the factor. I've worked on explosive two-minute rounds, just for the pressure that he is going to bring to the table. I also know from experience that if I do get clipped with one of Melvin's big shots it is going to hurt, and it is going to suck. What that does is, it drains your cardio, so if I have extra cardio in the tank, hopefully I can regain my composure and comeback after a big shot."
Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC), The World’s Fastest Growing Sport, returns to Biloxi, MS for the seventh time with BKFC 20 emanating from the Mississippi Coast Coliseum on Friday, August 20 and broadcast live on the BKFC TV App in addition to globally on FITE.TV (8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT).
Advance tickets starting at $55 are now on-sale through Ticketmaster HERE. The Mississippi Coast Coliseum is located at 2350 Beach Blvd, Biloxi, MS 39531. Doors will open on the night of the event at 6:00 p.m. local time with the first bell at 7:00 p.m. local time.
BKFC-20 is headlined by the highly anticipated rematch between former BKFC world champion ‘Brutal’ Johnny Bedford, (5-1-0, 3 KOs), of Colleyville, TX and Reggie Barnett, (6-1-0, 2 KOs), of Virginia Beach, VA competing for the vacant BKFC Bantamweight World Championship.