UFC featherweight prospect Jason “The Kid” Knight has quite the opportunity ahead of him.
After Chan Sung Jung was forced to pull out of his scheduled UFC 214 meeting against Ricardo Lamas due to a knee injury, Knight pushed to step in for his first bout on a UFC pay-per-view (PPV), and the UFC was happy to oblige. The Mississippi native will now challenge the current No. 3-ranked Lamas in what is undoubtably the biggest fight of his career.
Speaking to LowKickMMA just after news broke that he would in fact be taking on Lamas come July 29th, Knight admitted that he pushed hard to step in for “The Korean Zombie” despite his coach’s initial hesitation:
“My coach, he acts as my manager,” Knight told LowKickMMA. “Alan Belcher, and as soon as I heard about the fight I called him and – out of the possibilities we were looking at already, after I heard about the Ricardo Lamas fight I called him and said ‘Hey man, if they want tell them I’ll step in for that fight.’ My coach was a little hesitant at first, he said ‘We have a couple of options that would be better,’ and I told him ‘No, I want the best.’ I told him if they offer me another fight I’m not gonna turn it dow, like whatever, but if they give me the opportunity to fight Ricardo Lamas then I want that fight.
“My coach was like ‘Okay, if that’s what you want we’ll make it happen. I’ll let Sean Shelby know and see if we can make it happen.’ The next day he sent me a text message and said ‘Hey man, the Ricardo Lamas fight is confirmed.’ I was like ‘Hell yeah!’ That was yesterday, so I wasn’t able to say anything about it on social media because I didn’t know for sure. I hadn’t got a contract so I wasn’t 100 percent certain. But then the next thing you know, today I keep looking at my phone and Twitter and everything and everyone is saying the fight is gonna happen. So I hope whenever I get there this afternoon the contract is sitting at the gym waiting for me.”
As for just who those other options Knight’s coach was looking at were, Knight said that he and his team were aiming for fights with the likes of Myles Jury, Mirsad Bektic, and the heavy-hitting Jeremy Stephens. However, the opportunity to fight the former featherweight title challenger was too good to pass up:
“I know that my coach was looking at Myles Jury for possibly August,” Knight admitted. “Mirsad Bektic, but I think Mirsad turned the fight down. We were thinking about trying to get Jeremy Stephens cause he wasn’t booked with nobody else. He wasn’t lined up to fight and there really wasn’t a whole lot of other fighters in that top 15 that weren’t already booked. So Jeremy Stephens looked like a good option and so did Myles Jury. I think Myles Jury, he’s not in the top 15, so I think of course he’s going to be a tough fight for anybody, but why would you take a hard fight and not go forward?
“I told him Myles Jury is the last one on my list. The Ricardo Lamas fight made the most sense to me because, yeah he’s tough and it’s going to be a hard fight to win, but if I lose then I don’t really go down too far cause I got the number four guy right now. If I beat him and then beat a couple more, then I’m in title contention. I have a shot at the title. That just made the most sense and that’s the one I wanted the most.”
Lamas has won two of his last four fights. His most recent Octagon outing saw him take home a second round submission victory over Charles Oliveira via guilotine choke. Prior to that, Lamas suffered a unanimous decision loss to newly-crowned featherweight champ Max Holloway.
Despite Lamas’ spotty Octagon record as of late, Knight knows none of that matters and all that matters is what happens when they square off come UFC 214:
“Man he’s always tough, he always looks tough, he looks like he’s hard to beat,” Knight said. “He always comes ready and he’s gonna be a game opponent, but I don’t care who he’s beat before. It really doesn’t matter to me who his last win was or the win before that. Whatever, you know? Or who he’s lost to. None of that matters to me. All that matters to me is that I’m going to be standing across the cage from this guy on July 29th, I’m going to be prepared, I’m going to be in shape, and I’m going to sharpen all my skills as best I can get em, and I want to give him a fight he’s never seen before in his life.
“I’m not like the rest of these guys, in my eyes I’m going to be his toughest test. Of course he has been beat before, but I don’t believe he has seen anybody with the hunger that I have because I don’t believe anybody in the UFC wants this as bad as I do. I know that’s saying a lot because these guys work their ass off and they want it just like I do, but I just can’t see anybody that wants it more than me. So I’m going to go out there and give this guy everything I got and give it all I have and make sure I get my hand raised.”
Knight is currently on a four-fight win streak after having won his last two fights with back-to-back finishes. He stopped Alex Caceres in the second round of their January meeting in the second round with a rear-naked choke, and knocked out Chas Kelly this past May, 39 seconds into the third round.
“The Kid” vows not to underestimate “The Bully” as they approach fight night – but he can’t say that Lamas will be handling things the same way:
“I think I’ll be better on the ground,” claimed Knight. “I think I have the advantage there. He’s probably going to be a little stronger than I am, might hit a little harder than I do, but I got the length advantage. I’m going to be taller than he is, I should be able to, if not win the standup, be able to keep him on the outside, keep my range well. I’m going to come forward. I don’t know if he’s used to guys, or if he’s ready for guys who come forward, but everybody I’ve fought so far, the forward pressure they’re used to is not the forward pressure I’m coming with. I’m good at breaking guys, I’m good at getting in there and making it a hard fight on guys. Also, another advantage I have, I’m not going to underestimate him one bit.
“He’s going to underestimate me because I haven’t been in the UFC that long, and he’s going to look at me like ‘Who is this guy? I’m fighting a nobody.’ That’s what he’s going to think. He’s going to think it’s going to be an easy night. I’m going to go out there and I’m going to surprise the hell out of him. That’s just the way I see it happening. He’s going to think it’s going to be all flowers and dandelions and sh*t – that it’s going to be an easy day for him, but he gots another thing coming for him. I’m going to get in there and show my hardest that I belong in that top five.”
For an un-ranked Knight to come in and defeat the No. 3-ranked featherweight in the UFC would truly be an amazing accomplishment. If he is able to pull off the upset, Knight would certainly be right in, if not, just outside the title contention conversation.
Knight isn’t worried about that right now, however, and is soley focused on continuing his steady climb to the top, and that all starts with a potential win over Lamas:
“I’m not real sure about the title picture,” he said. “I don’t really care about that. I know that it’s gonna take at least a few more wins. But I know (if I win) it’s putting me right there with the rest of them. I’m thinking if I beat Ricardo Lamas, and Frankie Edgar hasn’t already fought Max Holloway, then I’m thinking I’ll get Frankie Edgar next or Cub Swanson next. Either one of those fights would be awesome because, it’s just gonna be an action-packed fight. You know they’re gonna bring it, I’m gonna bring it, and I think I can compete with either one of them and either way it’s going to be fireworks.”
This past weekend the featherweight division got quite the shake-up, when Max Holloway dethroned Jose Aldo for the top spot at 145 pounds, finishing “Scarface” in the third round via TKO in his own backyard of Brazil. Knight was watching the championship bout closely, and was able pick out a few holes in each man’s game.
“Mississippi Mean” believes that both Aldo and Holloway showed signs of being able to be finished on the feet, and if Knight were to ever step into the Octagon against “Blessed,” he feels as if he has the advantage when it comes to taking the fight to the ground:
“They both looked incredible,” Knight said. “Their standup looked amazing, they looked really crisp. Looked like they both were working really hard, and I see both of them with their – not easy to knockout but they can be knocked out. You seen Max Holloway get rocked in the first, then Jose Aldo did get finished, so either one of those guys can be knocked out on the feet.
“As far as Max Holloway goes, I feel I got a tougher chin than he does. I think his standup is probably a little bit better than mine, I’m not going to take anything away from the guy, I think his standup is a little better than mine but I think I can get that fight to the ground, and if I get that fight to the ground then I’m going to be better on the ground than Max Holloway is.”
Knight vs. Lamas is just one of many great fights on a stacked UFC 214 pay-per-view (PPV) card from Anaheim, California. Also on the card is a light heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, as well as former Invicta FC Featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino still being expected to compete on the car’s main event, per UFC President Dana White.
Being a part of a PPV card is just one of many dreams on Knight’s long list of goals, but in the end, he simply wants to be regarded as one of the greatest fighters of all time when he’s ready to hang up the gloves:
“It’s pretty awesome, I’m excited about it,” said Knight. “It’s my first pay-per-view (PPV) event. I don’t know for sure if fighters get a cut of the PPV or not, I’m still clueless about that. But that would be awesome if I made more money just because I’m on PPV. But it’s pretty awesome, I know that as far as every event goes – like the way I used to watch them back in the day, I don’t really hardly watch fights anymore, but back in the day when I was just a real big fan I would just watch the main event of the PPV. I didn’t care about the prelims. So all around the world fight fans are going to be watching this fight. So the ones that haven’t seen me before, because I wasn’t on the main card, they’re going to see me now and they’re going to know, win or lose, that Jason Knight is the real deal.
“So it’s a big accomplishment for me. This is kind of something I’ve always dreamed about. You get in to the UFC, that’s one accomplished. You get your first UFC win, that’s another dream accomplished. And then fight on a main card, I did that, I was on a main card but it was on FOX. Then fight on a PPV main card, that’s a whole new ball game, a whole new accomplishment. So I’m looking forward to it – carrying out one dream and then dreaming a new dream.
“That’s what I’ve been doing this whole career. As soon as I master one thing, get it taken care of, then it’s on to the next. My ultimate goal, of course you want to get the belt, but my ultimate goes is, before this career is over I want to go down in the UFC Hall Of Fame. I want to be known as one of the greatest fighters ever. And I’m going to work my ass off until I make that happen.”
Knight is predicting quite the brawl between himself and “The Bully,” and warned Lamas not to underestimate him once they get into the Octagon – because it could be his own undoing:
“I predict, as of right now, I predict it will be one of two things,” Knight said. “It’s either going to be a three round war, cause I don’t think he can finish me, it’s going to be a three round war where we both get Fight Of The Night, or I’m going to get him to the ground and submit him. He’s not going to submit me. I’ll put money on that.
“I don’t think he can knock me out either. So, Ricardo Lamas, don’t underestimate me. I’m not a chump, and just because I’m not in that top five, doesn’t mean you don’t have to be worried about me. So get your ass in the gym, get ready for the fight, I’ll be ready for the fight, and lets go out here and make some fireworks happen.”