Jason Knight is enjoying his membership in Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The Lucedale resident will face Chas “The Scrapper” Skelly (17-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) in a featherweight bout at UFC 211 on Saturday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Knight-Skelly matchup, one of the card’s top preliminary fights, will be televised on FX. The Mixed Martial Arts telecast starts at 7 p.m. A UFC heavyweight title clash between Stipe Miocic and Junior Dos Santos is UFC 211’s main event.
Knight, nicknamed The Kid, will be making his fifth appearance on a UFC card. Knight (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) has won three straight UFC fights since dropping the opener to Tatsuya Kawajiri on Dec. 11, 2015.
“It’s pretty cool fighting in UFC,” Knight said. “It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time. Now that I’m here, I want to climb the ladder and move up the rankings to showcase my skills.”
Skelly is ranked 20th in the latest UFC featherweight rankings. Knight is rated 27th. A win would likely put Knight in the top 20.
“He’s tough, but I’m very well-prepared,” Knight said of Skelly. “I believe I will dominate.”
Known for his explosive strikes and impeccable ground game, Knight loves the passionate UFC fan base, who often sell out arenas around the world.
“I get the biggest adrenaline rush fighting in front of my family and fans,” he said. “Whether they’re cheering for me or booing me, it’s great.”
Knight, who trains at Alan Belcher’s MMA Club in D’Iberville, loves the benefits of being a UFC fighter.
“It’s been an incredible journey,” he said. “From a small-town kid who’s rarely been out of the state of Mississippi to traveling around the world. I’ve been to Denver, Chicago, Las Vegas and Australia. I get to see the whole world. Not only am I traveling for free, I get paid doing something I love.”
Knight, who turns 25 July 14, credits Atlas Fights and its president, Glenn Mattina Jr., for a lot of his success. Knight is a former Atlas Fights featherweight champion.
“It’s where I got my first start,” Knight said. “I got my fan base started. I got to fight at home. I was the hometown guy. Glenn Mattina set the stage for me. I can’t thank him enough. I had some tough matches on the Atlas cards. I worked my way up. I wouldn’t be in UFC if not for Glenn Mattina.”
Mattina isn’t surprised Knight has reached the UFC level.
“Jason fought for Atlas Fights 10 times,” Mattina said. “We all always knew that there was something special about The Kid. He’s had his battles inside the cage. Outside the cage, he fought through adversities in his life. Atlas Fights and our team is very happy to see what The Kid has accomplished thus far in his MMA career. We believe he is destined to be a UFC champion next.”
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: American Airlines Arena, Dallas