Great Falls native Kai Stewart is becoming the new 'face of the BKFC'

Posted at 10:26 AM, Jul 04, 2024

GREAT FALLS — It’s been nearly two weeks since Great Falls native and CMR alum Kai Stewart defended his Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship featherweight world titleagainst Bryan “El Gallo” Duran at BKFC 62 in Miami, and it still doesn’t feel real to the 24-year old.

"I'm a small-town kid who grew up in Loma, Fort Benton and Great Falls. It's hard to put into words because as a kid, you dream of these things and that people will tell you that you can achieve anything you want,” Stewart told MTN Sports.

"And then when you're actually achieving everything that you want you start to wonder if someone is playing a trick on me. But it feels great."

Stewart won his third straight BKFC title fight as a betting underdog, so there’s no denying “King Kai” any longer. The unanimous decision was a dominant performance against the No. 1 contender on enemy turf. Gallo was a beloved figure in south Florida.

"He hit like a truck, but he looked tired. He was exhausted, and I broke him,” Stewart said. "But he had the same amount of power in the first round that he did in the fifth round. And it kept me on my toes and it helped bring out a different fighter in me. I adjusted and I showed my boxing.”

And the performance attracted attention from MMA superstar Conor McGregor, who recently became a part owner of BKFC.

"I got a follow from Conor the night before the event, and inside I was trying to keep it together but in reality that's huge. That's my literal idol. I have a canvas of Conor McGregor on my wall that I was gifted from my coach,” Stewart said.

"And, it puts it into perspective. I posted a picture with a young fan at the airport with my belt, and he said, 'that's how it's done, champ'. That little interaction right there is is insane to me. I think I'm going to personally invite him to my next fight. I know he's seeing my DMs"

Stewart keeps his team small. His corner consisted of coaches Sean Ibsen, Dave Evans, Sears Tiernan and girlfriend Dakota Rhoads. They’ve been with him since he started his BKFC journey and are not surprised by his meteoric rise.

"Kai has definitely matured in his life. He realizes that he's doing the right things,” Tiernan said. "He's got a team of people behind him that love him and care for him and only want to see the best for him. And and I think he understands that.”

Next up for the champ is a title fight against former UFC contender Jimmie Rivera, hopefully back in Montana.

“The BKFC gives me respect, they give me time. And I called for it. I think Montana deserves it. We've rallied behind BKFC, they've rallied behind, and we have just a slew of tough fighters out here,” Stewart said,

"And I think that we could sell out any venue that BKFC decided to do. And so we're hoping for it. But if we're not there yet, we're not there yet. But I will bring BKFC back to the Treasure State someday."