GREAT FALLS — It’s no secret that Great Falls native and BKFC world featherweight champ Kai Stewart loves to talk as much as he loves to fight. He’s been that way since he was a brash young wrestler at Great Falls CMR.
“I love this press. I love every chance I get to speak to the media,” Stewart said. “People didn't believe in me in high school wrestling. People don't believe in me as a bare knuckle fighter. But, you know, eventually all the doubters are going to become fans. And that's my goal is just keep climbing. To where there's nothing else for anybody to say.”
Stewart is the rare breed that can back up the talk, and that’s what he’s done since joining the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship. He’s undefeated at 4-0 and is considered one of the top stars in the promotion.
And Saturday in Salt Lake City, he’ll make his first title defense against top contender Howard “HD” Davis (5-1-1) at BKFC 56 in Salt Lake City, on one of the biggest cards in the promotion's history.
Stewart will fight alongside former UFC title contenders Mike Perry, Eddie Alvarez and Ben Rothwell. The last time the BKFC promoted a major event like this was at BKFC 41, where MMA superstar Conor McGregor was attendance.
“It's an honor to be on a card this big. I'm just this small town Great Falls, Montana kid having the opportunity to share stage with greats and not to mention I'm a world title fight on the card,” Stewart said. “So a lot of eyes are going to be on it. And let's really hope Conor McGregor shows up because there is not a chance I'm losing in front of Conor McGregor.”
Life has changed for the 23-year-old after he won a world title. He hung out with rapper Rick Ross at a his annual Pool Party in Georgia. UFC champ and Helena native Sean O’Malley even mentioned him during his own post championship press conference, albeit in a derogatory manner.
When asked a question about bringing another combat sports title to Montana after Stewart’s BKFC belt, O’Malley replied: “Next question. That kid sucks.”
Stewart leaned in to the remark, wearing a hat that said “THAT KIDS SUCKS” to a Fusion Fight League event in Great Falls where O’Malley and his trainer Tim Welch were in attendance cornering some of the fighters from Welch’s gym in Arizona.
“I bet on Sean O’Malley to win that fight so congratulations on becoming Montana's second world champion. But after the fight, he said ‘that kid sucks’. And just to be funny, I had to make it into a hat,” said Stewart. “And I know he saw it whenever he was in Great Falls. So maybe one day there could be a big old Montana showdown. But until then, we're both on different trajectories and both are just crushing it for Montana.”
But Stewart has never forgotten his roots and believes his run of success is still just getting started. It’s hard to get to the top, but even harder to stay there. And he embraces that challenge.
“A lot of people have said I’ve been the hunter, now I'm the hunted. And I'm from Montana where we're born to be hunters, so it doesn't go away. I'm still not satisfied,” Stewart said. “I’m only 23-years-old, so there's so much more to do in this sport. Maybe if I was like 38 or 39 and I won my first world title, we'd be really, really excited. But I have a lot more world titles to win, so I'm not really thinking of that. I think I'm going to stay on top.”
BKFC 56 is scheduled for Saturday, December 2 at the Maverik Center in Salt Lake City. The main card begins at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast via Pay-Per-View or via the BKFC app.
There is also a watch party in Great Falls at the Stadium Sports Bar & Casino starting at 7 p.m.