Bare-knuckle returns to Biloxi
This weekend Jason Knight (20-6 MMA, 0-1 BKB) will get into a fight in Mississippi. That’s nothing new for the 27-year-old. Knight has been fighting in Mississippi his whole life.
On Saturday, he will fight in a ring at Bare Knuckle FC 9 and not in the streets as he spent so many years doing. Standing across from him will be Artem Lobov (13-15-1-1 MMA, 2-0 BKB), a man Knight lost a close fight to back in April.
For Knight, there is nothing quite like fighting in his home state.
“I’ve fought in Australia, I’ve fought at Madison Square Garden, I’ve fought in Chicago, just all over the world. I’ve fought plenty of different places and there’s nothing like fighting at home. I know 100% that 90% of the crowd is going to be supporting Jason Knight and I’m ready for that.”
Of course, the Mississippian didn’t start out fighting in the world’s biggest arenas.
“I used to get in a lot of street fights. I used to stay in trouble left in right. I was getting charges pressed against me because if somebody looked at me the wrong way we were fighting. If they said the wrong thing, we were fighting”, Knight told The Scrap.
He began training in his backyard. A family friend offered to teach Knight how to throw straight punches and later presented “The Kid” with a flyer he got from a bar in Mobile, Alabama. The flyer advertised a place called “The Fight Club”.
These were in the days before Alabama had an Athletic Commission. The fights were unsanctioned, and the venue wasn’t set up for the bouts.
“I fought in a little rinky-dink cage. They had a little 16ft x 16ft dog kennel stuck inside of a boxing ring and called that their cage. I fought there six times, training in my backyard, training with my buddies, my brother, or whoever. We really didn’t know anything. We were studying out of books, or whatever we could find on Youtube. We were watching PRIDE, old UFC, and we really didn’t have a lot to go on, but we were getting it done. I went 6-0 training in my backyard.”
Participants never knew who he would fight when he showed up to the venue. The promoters would try to match them up by asking how much they weighed on fight night. It could be a guy who trained jiu-jitsu daily or a man in his thirties who had a few beers in him and felt particularly froggy that evening.
After putting in his time on the regional scene, Knight made his way to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He went 4-1 in his first five and earned the moniker “Hick Diaz” for his exciting style. He was making more money than he had ever seen and began to lose that passion he once had. Then the losses came. His head wasn’t in the game anymore.
He had lost the “fire” for MMA that had made him the number 15 featherweight in the world.
Bare Knuckle FC
After being cut, Knight began fielding offers from various organizations. One day, he saw Bare Knuckle FC was coming to Mississippi on Twitter and tweeted and asked if his fans would like to see him compete.
The next morning Knight woke to the news that he would be fighting Lobov being posted all over social media. Overnight, his managers had made the deal.
Just over a month later, Jason Knight met Artem Lobov in one of the most chaotic brawls of 2019. It was five rounds of blood and grit. Both men refused to back down from the other no matter how many times knuckles felt his flesh.
This Saturday, the rematch happens. A fight Knight says will be different this time around.
“I started with a lot of heart, a lot of tenacity, a lot of toughness and I’m not going to have to show you any of that in this fight. I’m going to go out there and fight with the skills that I’ve been working. The last fight, I was a thousand times more prepared than what I showed. I have a lot more skill than I showed, but somewhere along the way, I lost my head. I didn’t use any skill. I just wanted to knock him out. I didn’t think about how to knock him out.”
The first bout with Lobov taught Knight that he has to fight smarter. He wants to avoid getting his face slashed up again. Not for his own safety or vanity, but because he’s worried a cut could cause a doctor to call the fight off.
Knight also learned Lobov won’t “just quit”, but he also believes that should each man be pushed to their absolute physical limit, he would prevail.
“I feel like if you left us in there till death, he’s going to die before I die. He’s going to quit before I do. And if we go until somebody gives up, I promise you, he’s going to give up before I do. But he’s a hard man to put away in five rounds. I know that now going into this fight and I’m going to fight a whole lot smarter, and if I don’t put him away, that’s fine. But I will outclass him.