There’s something in the water at Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship as yet another mother will make her debut in the squared circle.
Taylor Starling, mom to two boys (ages 3 and 4), will make her bare knuckle debut when she meets Charisa Sigala at “KnuckleMania” in Tampa, Florida on February 5.
“They are really supportive,” Starling said when asked what her family thinks of her competing in the world’s fastest growing combat sport. “I take them to the gym. They really don’t see it any differently. They enjoy that I do it. I really try to do my best to explain everything. As young as they are, they are really intelligent. I sit and break it down like, ‘Hey, Mommy is going to fight. This is going to happen.’ They ask me if I’m going to be ok. Since they go to the gym with me, they think it is really cool. My parents and my family, they love that I do it. They are very supportive so it makes it that much easier.”
“Killa Bee” Starling joins a handful of other women who split their time between being a mother and a fighter inside the squared circle. Several other notable moms who have competed under the BKFC banner include Bec Rawlings, Britain Hart, Sheena Starr, Jenny Savage, and Maia Kahaunaele.
Starling, who trains under Keith Richardson at Modern Warrior in Rock Hill, South Carolina, has experience in mixed martial arts, boxing, and kickboxing and the transition to bare knuckle was one that was seamless, at least according to her.
“The thing is, I have always been a boxer,” Starling said. “I always wanted to pursue boxing but that is a really hard career to make for yourself. I’ve always been told that MMA is where it is at, that people love the female MMA fighters. I wanted to do it but I hate jiu-jitsu, if I am being honest. I love the aspect of going in there and striking. I’ve always done MMA because I wanted to fight. I wanted to bang and have a fair fight but I hated the jiu-jitsu aspect of it. When I saw bare knuckle for the first time I immediately wanted to do it but I had so many people tell me that I was crazy. They told me I was a psycho and ‘don’t do it, it’s not safe.’ At first I listened but then when Paige Van Zant signed I was like ‘Screw it. Why can’t I go to bare knuckle? I know I can hang with the best of them. The amount of females in bare knuckle was very scarce and now it is starting to take off. Women are signing to bare knuckle. I stayed persistent. I felt like I belonged there. I’m super exciting that it is finally happening.”
Starling’s schedule isn’t unlike many others in her position. Juggling several jobs, training, and taking care of her family are priorities, but if it all works out, it will pay off.
“It’s crazy,” she said of the non-stop running around “I work full time as a ride operator at an amusement park and then I work at a bakery on the side. I’m a mom, and I train. My life is a little bit of this and a little bit of this, a little bit of that.”
When asked what she knows about her opponent in Sigala, Starling didn't really know much about the woman who will be toeing the line opposite her in Tampa.
“I think she’s a jiu-jitsu girl," Starling said. "I don’t like to underestimate anybody but from what I have seen, to me, she doesn’t look like a solid boxer. She’s a strong ground girl. I think there is a misconception with some of these MMA fighters, not to say there aren’t good MMA fighters who come to bare knuckle, but it is different. I know it’s going to be different. She’s a ground girl. I really believe I’m going to hit her in the face and she’s going to want out of there.”
As far as expectation for the promotion’s biggest event to date, the only confidence Starling has in making a prediction was that her hand would be raised in victory.
“I know it is going to be huge. People keep asking me what I am going to expect and my answer is ‘I expect the unexpected.’ I can put this idea in my head of what it is going to be like but I really don’t know. I just know it’s going to be huge. I’m really excited to be a part of such a huge event. I know I’m going to win, I can tell you that. I think it is so much bigger than people even realize. It’s such a monumental event for Bare Knuckle FC and all the fighters that are on the card.”
The two ladies in the main event at "KnuckleMania" are possible future opponents for Starling at 125-pounds in Paige Van Zant and Britain Hart. When asked for a prediction for that contest, "Killa Bee" leaned in favor of the BKFC Veteran, Hart.
“The funny thing is I am friends with Britain Hart," Starling said. "I’ve trained with her. I don’t’ want to say I’m her closest friend but I’ve trained with her before, we’ve sparred. I’ve been to multiple events with Britain and she is so awesome. I think a lot of people are underestimating her. I feel like people aren’t giving credit to her where it is due. I’m excited because we’ve talked before she got the Paige fight and we discussed that if I come to bare knuckle that we might be crossing paths. I have so much respect for Britain so if we do end up fighting in the future we have nothing but respect for each other. Or if I fight Paige, I’m game for whatever. It’s a job so there comes a time when you have to put feelings aside. If you have to fight, you have to fight. I have all the love in the world for Britain. I know she has what it takes to beat Paige Van Zant and I hope she does. I’m super happy for her to get that opportunity.”
While right now Starling is only contracted to one fight with BKFC, she is hoping to secure a multiple-fight deal, one that might pair her up against a former MMA foe in Jenny Savage.
Savage, who recently victorious over Sheena Starr at BKFC 15, defeated Starling in a mixed martial arts bout in 2019.
“I f*cking hate Jenny Savage. Obviously, if I win this fight and they offer me Paige, of course I am going to do that BUT if they are like ‘eh, you need to do another fight,’ I f*cking want Jenny Savage. I want to take her out.”
Headlining “KNUCKLEMANIA” is the Highly Anticipated Debut of Combat Sports Superstar Paige Van Zant facing Britain Hart in the featherweight division. Co-featured ‘Brutal’ Johnny Bedford clashes with Dat ‘Be Dat’ Nguyen for the BKFC Bantamweight World Title. In a special attraction fight Chris ‘The Crippler’ Leben battles Quentin ‘The Hero’ Henry in the 205lb. division.
Advance tickets for the socially distanced event starting at $55 may be purchased through the RP Funding Center Box Office, by phone at 1- 888-397-0100, and online at www.rpfundingcenter.com.The RP Funding Center is located at 701 W. Lime Street in Lakeland centrally located in Florida between Orlando and Tampa off Interstate 4. Doors will open on the night of the event at 7:00 p.m. ET with the first bell at 8:00 p.m. ET.
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