As one of the UFC’s go-to sources of violent delights in the featherweight division, Jason Knight has many fans eagerly awaiting his return to the cage this Sunday. Knight faces Makwan Amirkhani on the main card of the promotion’s first showing in Liverpool as Darren Till takes on Stephen Thompson in the stellar main event.
The proud Mississippian spoke to The Body Lock about his aspirations, learning experiences and more before entering the Octagon on Sunday night in search of another blood-spilling victory.
Barnburner for the Scousers
The phrase ‘fighting city’ gets thrown around a lot these days, but Liverpudlians can hold their heads up high in knowing that their city has earned that moniker. It’s the kind of place that breeds warriors of the highest caliber. That fighting heartbeat of the city, coupled with the week-long buzz of the Champion’s League final for Liverpool FC on Saturday, creates the perfect atmosphere for a man like Jason Knight.
“I wish I were able to go and watch the game,” he said, continuing by telling us, “But of course I’ve got my own things to do. I think that atmosphere is going to be awesome. Hopefully, it carries over from the field to the arena, and those same crazy-ass fans will be screaming their heads off for some MMA fights.”
It can almost be guaranteed that this will come to be an eerily accurate description of the Echo Arena’s 11,000 fight fans. Because if there’s one thing Jason Knight does well, as well as anyone ever at 145 lbs, it’s putting on a show. Knight, at the age of 25, has snatched three post-fight bonuses in just seven bouts in the UFC, including two tremendous finishes of Alex Caceres and Chas Skelly.
These wins are what propel fighters ahead of the queue, into the fast lane and then into the rapidly-shifting MMA limelight, but they have never been the primary focus of “Mississipi Mean.” No, the primary objective is far more straightforward – to have a bit of fun.
“Of course you want to get the win, that’s always the goal, and I’ve been getting more and more prepared each day. I’ll go out here, and I’ll be ready. If it goes my way that’s going to awesome, but if it doesn’t I won’t be too upset. I’m gonna go out there and give it my best, no matter what.”
Jason Knight is striving for more
However, do not confuse this easy-going attitude with complacency. Knight is more than aware of the fact that he has lost his last two fights and he is determined to get back in the win column. His realistic outlook has allowed him to learn from his losses.
“With the Ricardo Lamas fight, I learned that you can’t make any mistakes at that level. You can’t go out there and throw punches with your hands down, and so Ricardo caught me. I’m going to try my best to start keeping my hands up in there and make fewer mistakes. I need to be flawless.”
“But the Gabriel Benitez fight, what that really taught me was not to fight [if I’m] sick. I had strep throughout the week before the fight, and I didn’t want to back out. But halfway through the first round, I gassed out and really there was nothing I could do except turn in an ass-whooping.” Not many fighters would be so comfortable in recalling an ‘ass-whooping’ that they were on the receiving end of. But then again, Jason Knight isn’t like many fighters.
In fact, the only fighter that he could genuinely be categorized with is the man who is like no other. Knight spent a week with UFC legend and danger connoisseur Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at his fighter ranch in Edgewood, New Mexico, during his fight camp and, speaking to The Body Lock before arriving at the ranch, had nothing but praise for one of his heroes. “This is a guy who I’ve looked up to since I was 14 [years old]. I watched Donald Cerrone in the WEC, and I watched him come up through the UFC. So just to be able to go out there and get in some good work with him, have him show me a few tricks of the trade, it’s a dream come true and something that I never thought would happen.”
It is has become abundantly clear that, in spite of his relaxed demeanor, Knight is solely focused on becoming a better fighter. He’s learned from his errors. He’s making the sacrifices. He’s whole-heartedly invested his entire life into ensuring that he gets the Echo Arena’s foundations trembling under the collective thumping of an enthusiastic Liverpool crowd. Jason Knight has it all to go for against Makwan Amirkhani, and you can be assured that he will hold nothing back in his pursuit of it.
Liverpool and beyond
As for what could be next, it seems as though the immediate future for “The Kid” may be clearer than you think. He had some choice words for another featherweight scrapper that could potentially make for a fight-of-the-year candidate with Knight as his dance partner.
“Of course I want to fight everybody to make my way up that ladder until, one day, I get that belt. Right now, I’m just looking to beat Makwan Amirkhani. If I do get past him, a guy named Damien Brown called me out on Twitter wanting to fight me, so I wouldn’t be opposed to that fight. I’d go out there and make him regret calling me out. I’d like that.”
Now while that matchup alone should be enough to get Knight into the record books (perhaps for most blood spat out in a fight or best post-fight bro hug between fighters), he cannot be forgotten about as a serious contender in the talent-rich featherweight division.
The man has the same aspirations as every other athlete on the UFC roster; he deserves more than to be outcasted from the title discussion just because of his no-nonsense approach to talking about his career. His Instagram bio doesn’t say “future champ,” and he doesn’t claim to be the best in the world already, but make no mistake – he wants gold just as much as everyone else.
“This time next year, I definitely plan on being inside that top ten for the first time. I just wanna keep moving up, fight bigger and better guys, and hopefully get close to that title run.”
Don’t let the carefree bliss of Jason Knight’s personality fool you. He truly does nothing better on this planet than fighting other people for the entertainment of thousands of spectators. A locked cage is his ‘safe space.’ That’s why, when the city of Liverpool has a couple of sore heads from the night before, the lot of them will still be screaming for some more Knight-time action. Because he’s that good, and he wants it that much. And he’s absolutely, categorically, certifiably insane about fighting.