Jason Knight worked his entire career to finally make it to the UFC and he ultimately spent nine fights competing inside the Octagon while working his way into the top 15 rankings at featherweight.
It was a lifetime of dedication that paid off as Knight was quickly becoming must see television every time he competed.
Unfortunately for Knight, the wheels fell off after accepting a short notice fight against former title contender Ricardo Lamas and suffering a brutal first round knockout. Knight would then lose his next three fights in a row before receiving his pink slip from the UFC to signify the end of his career with the organization.
In the aftermath of that last fight in November 2018, Knight took time to reflect before inking a one bout deal to compete with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships (BKFC) where he faces Artem Lobov in the main event on Saturday night from Mississippi.
While there were certainly opportunities for him in other fight promotions, Knight says after his last loss he wasn’t ready to commit to another mixed martial arts bout right away and this was exactly what he needed to hit the reset button.
“I’m not ready to take an MMA fight right now,” Knight explained when speaking to MMAWeekly. “I feel like there’s work that needs to be done. I got kicked out of the UFC cause I need to work on my wrestling. I need to work on not constantly making mistakes. In a lot of my UFC fights, I made stupid ass little mistakes that ended up costing me the fight. I’ve got to work on fixing those things so I’m not ready to take an MMA fight because I don’t feel that I’ve had the time to really work on everything I want to work on.
“It made perfect sense [to fight in BKFC]. I get to fight at my house. I get to make some money and I get to have a blast in front of my fans.”
As much as he may enjoy some bare knuckle boxing, Knight is still ultimately an MMA fighter at his heart and he will eventually get back to that sport when the time is right.
The bigger question is his desire to return to the UFC because for all the blood, sweat and tears he poured into making it there, he’s not all that concerned about going back.
“The way I’ve been thinking lately the UFC is going to s—t,” Knight said bluntly. “I would love to get back to the UFC, don’t get me wrong, but if I don’t it’s not going to be the end of the world. Because the rankings mean nothing. The belts mean absolutely f—king nothing. If it’s not a money fight, the UFC doesn’t f—king care about it anymore. If you’re not a fighter who’s bringing in a s—t ton of revenue for them, they’re going to treat you like trash and you’re expendable.
“F—k the UFC. If I make it back, great, but if not I’ll be fine fighting for some other organization. The way I see it, I’m going to provide for my family through fighting or teaching or doing mixed martial arts. I’m going to provide for my family doing something I love.”
According to Knight, one of the most attractive elements in accepting a fight for BKFC was the financial windfall that would benefit him for this main event showdown against Lobov.
“My last UFC fight it was my ninth UFC fight. I made it to No. 15 in the world and then of course I fell off. I had some s—t going on in life, whatever, I fell off. I lost four fights in a row. But after nine fights, the biggest my paycheck got was $36,000 to walk in the cage, $36,000 to win. No pay-per-view points, no main event, none of that s—t. No pay-per-view ever,” Knight explained.
“My first fight with bare knuckle I get pay-per-view points and if everything works out the way it’s going to work out, I’m going to get a s—t ton more than I did in my last UFC fight. So why in the hell would I be rushing to get back there?”
Right now, Knight is all about doing what’s best for his family and in the long term for his career and that may not involve a return to the UFC now or ever.
After this fight against Lobov on Saturday night, the Mississippi native affectionately referred to as ‘Hick Diaz’ by many fans will reassess what comes next for him but whatever that may be, he’s going to do something he loves and get paid for i.
“I made it to the UFC. I did what I set out to do,” Knight said. “Why not go make some f—king money somewhere? Why not see what’s next?”