Exclusive: An interview with Jason “The Kid” Knight: “It really p****d me off the way the judges are just playing with people’s careers”

UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs. Till seems like an age ago. Over one month ago, the UFC headed to Liverpool, England to showcase a card of homegrown and international talent for a packed out Liverpool Echo Arena. With botched weight cuts, lackluster home-fighter performances and 5 round striking duels, some of the bouts on the lower spectrum of the card have since been long forgotten.

A fight that drew a lot of attention at the time, was a featherweight prospect clash between an out of form but game, Jason “The Kid” Kid Knight and European starlet Makwan “Mr Finland” Amirkhani. Both fighters were coming off a loss, so it was a chance for both the right those wrongs and make progress in the division. With pre-fight insults and weigh-in altercations aside, both fighters entered the cage on fight night with a point to prove.

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After a three round back and forth in which Knight showcased his usual forward marching Muay Thai, countered by Amirkhani’s dynamic wrestling, the contest was settled by a split decision. Amirkhani took it, but not without some controversy.

The main talking point was the lack of activity from the top from “Mr Finland”. After scoring multiple takedowns, he didn’t seem to want to advance and finish the fight. With Knight fighting hard from his back attempting to use a rubber guard to throw triangles, Amirkhani seemed content in dominating with top control, simply holding Knight firmly against the canvass stuffing any offence he could attempt.

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Albeit there was some debate around the MMA scoring system and whether bottom-offence trumps top-control, but the decision was officially in the books – Knight chalked up a third consecutive loss.

I caught up with Jason to discuss his feelings around the fight, his next steps, his UFC contract and how he plans to get back to winning ways. Here’s what he had to say…

Brad Dalrymple: Thank you for giving us the opportunity to catch up, I know its pretty soon after you most recent fight at UFC Liverpool with Amirkhani on May 27th. How are things?

Jason Knight: Things are great. I’m taking care of family and I’m about to get back in the gym tomorrow morning.

BD: That’s good to hear. Did you come out of the fight with any major bumps, knocks or injuries, or are you ready to get back out there as soon as possible?

JK: I just had the cut on my left eye but this was just an old cut opening back up. It’s healed now, and I’m ready to go as soon as possible.

BD: Excellent. Looking back at the Amirkhani fight at UFC Liverpool, there was a lot of noise from the MMA community due to Amirkhani’s inactivity from the top after he was declared the winner. So, looking back at fight in hindsight, did that result sting more than most due to the slight controversy surrounding the decision?

JK: Yes, it really pissed me off the way the judges are just playing with people’s careers.

BD: Can you expand on that for me? How do you think the judges justified the decision and what did you think you did to seal it?

JK: In the new scoring system, standup and striking are supposed to be the main part of the scoring – I landed more strikes standing, and I landed more strikes on the ground. The only thing he did was land three more takedowns than I did. I had more submission attempts and everything. As far as him being on top, and control, even though he was on top during the fight, you can clearly see I was the fighter in control on the ground. Plus, I landed two knockdowns in the first round. If you go back and watch I rocked him in the second round as well. The only thing he did was take me down and lay and pray. By the new scoring system that is not supposed to win the fight. This fight is going by the old scoring system because he is on top, it assumes he wins the fight. I hate the fact that most of the judges know nothing about MMA. They have probably never competed in MMA, or any other type of martial arts but they get to judge our performances based on our skill, which they know nothing about.

BD: I wouldn’t argue with your points, there was inactivity there, for sure. During the fight itself and in between rounds, how did you feel the fight was being scored? Did you feel you were ahead on the cards, and was this in your mind when trying to be offensive from your back?

JK: I know for sure that I had won the first. I thought for sure that I had won the second too, and I know that I had lost the third, but I thought for sure at the end of the fight that I had done enough to win. The only reason I was being offensive off of my back is I know that it would be tougher to stand up and give him more opportunity to score points than it would be to hold him and control him until the referee stood the fight up I think there was a few times the ref should have stood it up sooner.

BD: That would make sense. Prior to the fight there was a lot of back and forth between you and Amirkhani – couple that with the decision and your points you mention, do you feel you would like to run that one back and fight him again to avenge the loss?

JK: I would definitely like to run it back and  next time I will make sure it does not go to a decision.

BD: Great, from a personal perspective I think that would be worthy of a rewind – I feel there is unfinished business there. So, in respect to your current record, the Amirkhani loss take you to 3 consecutive losses, albeit 2 of those were questionable. How do you sit contractually with the UFC? I would assume with your style and forgivable defeats, you should be well and truly on their roster?

JK: I signed a four fight contract before that last fight so as of now, I have three fights left on my contract, but I know I need to get a win.

BD: Oh ok, that must give you confidence in knowing the UFC feel you are an asset to them and you bring something they value. So in respect to next steps, is the Amirkhani rematch something you will be actively campaigning for, or do you have your sights set on anyone else in particular? How does Gilbert Melendez or Artem Lobov appeal to you? Melendez is on a poor run of form, and Lobov has recently lost to Fili and Swanson in his last 2.

JK: I don’t care who I fight , I just want to fight as soon as possible and I hope it’s someone who is game to actually get down and dirty.

BD: In that featherweight division, you should have some choice. So when can we expect to hear of your next fight confirmation? Have you spoken to the UFC and made noise about getting back in there?

JK: I messaged Sean Shelby and told him I want to fight in August, but still no reply. So, as of right now, I have no clue on my return.

BD: I assume you mean the UFC Fight Night card in Lincoln, Nebraska? That would tie in with your timescale being at the end of August.

JK: Yes I would love to get on that card!

BD: Excellent. I hope that pulls off, the Pinnacle Bank Arena is a solid stage for a return. To conclude, is there a message to your fans and followers? I know a lot of people are looking forward to you righting your recent form.

JK: I just want to say thanks for all the support to my fans and my family and mark my words I will be back.

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