Jason Knight continues to climb up the featherweight division ladder in Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The Lucedale native will face top five featherweight Ricardo Lamas on July 29 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The Lamas-Knight bout is part of UFC 214. Knight (17-2) replaces the injured Chan Sung Jung. The main bout of UFC 214 is a light heavyweight title clash between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones.
Lamas (17-5) is ranked third among UFC featherweights. The Chicago native is nicknamed the Bully and on the verge of a title fight against champion Max Holloway.
“I’m real excited about it,” Knight said. “I’m coming for everybody in front of me.”
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For this bout, Knight tweaked his training schedule. He began to train full-time, occasionally working out twice a day as the bout closes in. The fight is three weeks away.
“My preparation changed since my last fight,” Knight said. “I’ve been working on closing the holes in my game. If there’s something that works, we’ll keep it. If it doesn’t work, we work on improving it.”
A win over Lamas would be a career changer for Knight, nicknamed “The Kid.” Knight would likely vault into the UFC Top 10 featherweight rankings.
“If I beat Lamas, I’ll have to get through two more fights and then I’ll fight for the belt,” Knight said. “He’s a wrestler. I’ve brought in wrestlers from Pennsylvania and worked on my strike game to prepare to face him. He’s good and only been beaten three times inside the UFC.”
Knight, who turns 25 next Friday, dropped his UFC opener to Tatsuya Kawajiri on Dec. 11, 2015. The defeat was a learning experience for the former Atlas Fights member.
“When I first signed with UFC, I would leave my homebuilding job and train a few hours,” Knight said. “I was already dog tired from work and busting my tail to work out. Now I’m getting to train when I want.”
Knight, who fights out of Alan Belcher’s Gym in D’Iberville, continues to live his dream.
“From a small town kid who’s rarely been out of the state of Mississippi to traveling around the world,” Knight said. “Not only am I traveling for free, I get paid doing something I love.”
Knight is coming off an impressive third-round victory over Chas Kelly two months ago at Dallas’ American Airlines Arena. Kelly’s arm was broken in the fight. Knight earned a $50,000 performance bonus in the win. The stakes have gotten higher.
“After this fight, people will know more about Jason Knight,” Knight said. “If I beat Lamas, it will be unbelievable. My name will be out there.”