Chris Sarro of Ellsworth (facing front) delivers a knockout punch against Ras Hylton during their Mixed Martial Arts bout at the New England Fights event held Sept. 7 at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono. Sarro is embarking on a professional career in the new Bare-Knuckle Fighting Championship organization. Credit: Courtesy of Monty Rand Photography

Life as a local celebrity is coming as a surprise to Ellsworth’s Chris Sarro.

“The other day at the gas station this lady came up to me and asked for my autograph, which for me is mind-boggling,” said Sarro, a reigning Northern New England Golden Gloves boxing champion who on Saturday night makes his professional bare-knuckle fighting debut in Biloxi, Mississippi.

“I’ll never feel deserving of that, but she wanted to let me know that her grandson and granddaughter look up to me and all the kids are talking about me. I had no idea. I forget the kids have internet these days.”

The 31-year-old Sarro is scheduled to fight West Virginian John McAllister in a light-heavyweight battle on the undercard at BKFC 9, a show being promoted by Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum Convention Center.

The show is available through pay-per-view, but two Ellsworth venues — The Grand and Tag’s Sports Bar — plan to show the live stream of Sarro’s fight.

“It’s been unreal the amount of support and love I’ve received from the community. It’s definitely a driving factor for me going down there and performing well,” Sarro said.

Sarro earned a contract with the Philadelphia-based Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship — which has staged legalized bare-knuckle events in the United States since 2018 — after a one-punch knockout of Ras Hylton during their mixed martial arts battle for New England Fights at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono on Sept. 7.

Before that he went 7-1 as an amateur boxer and in January won his weight class of the Northern New England Golden Gloves in January. That led to his move to the professional ranks, first in MMA and now in bare-knuckle fighting.

“For the fact that my last fight was only 67 seconds long, it’s kind of like we just jumped right back into camp again,” Sarro said.

His training has included significant sparring with Boston-area boxers both in Massachusetts and at his base camp at MXA Fitness in Ellsworth. He said he’s in the best shape of his life.

Not much is known about Sarro’s opponent. McAllister has an 0-2 record in professional mixed martial arts. His most recent bout was a first-round loss to Anthony Coleman on Aug. 31 at Wyandotte, Michigan.

The 36-year-old McAllister also has one no contest as a boxer.

“I only focus on what we’re bringing to the table,” Sarro said. “I don’t care what he’s got, it’s just what we’re bringing. So far that seems to be the recipe for success.”

Sarro has a three-fight deal with BKFC but considers Saturday’s fight the first step in a career he plans to extend far beyond that initial contract.

“I’m looking at it like it’s a one-fight deal,” he said. “My plans are to go all the way to the top, so as much as we can’t look past him, I’m looking to dominate the guy. My confidence couldn’t be any higher right now.”

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...