The Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship received a further bump in it’s already surging popularity when two former UFC fighters, Jason Knight and Artem Lobov, engaged in a recent twitter spat and through dialogue alone, sealed the deal for a Bare Knuckle fight in early April. I caught up with ‘The Kid’ to talk about the upcoming battle with Lobov along with a number of other exciting things coming up in his sights.
Danty: Before we get into Bare Knuckle and Artem, how’s fight camp going?
Jason Knight: Going great, Man. Started training in Mobile with a guy named Blake Singley. He’s one of my good buddies; he’s a great boxer. He used to train with a guy named Johnny Smith. Mr. Johnny is the best boxing coach I think I have ever seen, in my opinion. The thing is Blake was one of Mr. Johnny’s best students. Well, Mr. Johnny’s retired now and I got Blake working with me. Now, I’m getting a little bit of Johnny, and I think that’s all I need to smash Artem up, ya know?
D:How did the fight with Artem Lobov come to fruition?
JK: I got a message from Bare Knuckle at least a month or so ago. A guy was asking me if I’d be interested in the fight. That was a message coming from the middleman. They kinda threw out a little shitty number at me n’ stuff and I told him, “You don’t have to convince me. Talk to my coach and my manager Mike Sanford and Alan Belcher.” I said, “If you can talk them into it, you can talk me into it. Whatever they decide, that’s what I’ll do”. A couple weeks go by, I see a bunch of posts about the Bare Knuckle shit comin’ up. I posted that night and said something about:
I go to sleep that night and I wake up the next morning, and I see Ariel Helwani announcing that Artem Lobov is fighting Jason Knight.
I call Mike and say “What’s up, man? Are we fighting Lobov in Bare Knuckle?”. He’s like, “Yeah, man. I told him yesterday saying we’d take it”. I’m like,”fuckin’ right let’s do it.”
D: I was reading the twitter exchange in real time. As entertaining as it was, it made me wonder. Did the Artem dig come from genuine malice or just poking fun?
JK: I don’t really have any problems with Artem. That’s just me being truthful: I feel like I’m finna’ put knuckles all up side his head and cut his face up. I’m gonna try and beat him up and make him battered n’ bruised standing across from me. That was just me having fun, ya know? I was seeing what he was gonna say back. It got out of me a little with the shit talking, but I think it was funny, man. I’ll worry about him with the hands, and that’s all that matters.
D: Without giving too much away from your game plan, what are your expectations from Lobov come fight night?
JK: I believe he’s gonna come in and he’s gonna fight hard like he always does. He’s gonna try his best to knock me out. He’s gonna try to march me down and fuckin’ never give me any kind of breath. He’s gonna try to knock me out with every single punch, but he’s not gonna think about *how* to knock me out. In the mean time, while he’s coming forward with his hands down throwing these big bombs, I’m gonna be right there in the pocket. I’m gonna bomb on him. I’m not gonna hit him hard. but I’m just gonna just pick my shots: Pop-pop-pop, move! Pop-pop-pop, move! Hit my shots, hit my angles and were gonna see if he’s ready for it.
D:We see former UFC fighters proving their worth recently in this surging promotion. What attracted you to fight at BKFC?
JK: To be honest with you, the only thing that really attracted me to it was the fact that they’re having a fight at the Bolixi Coliseum; this is my hometown. All of my people are there, ya know? It’s gonna be my fans supporting me. I can’t wait to go out there and do it in front of everyone who got me to the bigger shows. I just ask them can I fight the one time? I just wanna fight the one time here in Bolixi. and it’s something that’s not MMA; so, it doesn’t go toward my own MMA record, and it keeps me active. When I get done with this I’m gonna go back to the drawing board and see whats next.
D: Where do you see bare knuckle fighting going as it evolves and expands?
For what I can see, David Feldman puttin’ in work. From what he said, it took 9 years to get it started. If he’s been working his ass off that long, I don’t see the guy stopping, know what I mean? He look s like he’s pushing like hell to promote the fight. He’s trying to get good fighters. So, I think it should do good, man. It just depends on who he can get in there, and what kind of names he can get out there. look at just a few of the exciting guys that used to be UFC fighters and stuff like that. people are gonna slowly but surely start watching the sport and they’ll be fans of that sport alone, you know? I believe that they’ll get big.
D: What was the reception of MMA and combat sports like around your neighborhood?
JK: I just opened my own gym right here in Lucedale. It’s the the very first thing of its kind around my own town. As far as like the small town scene, nobody ever really made it anywhere until *I* did. Everybody’s like seeing “Hey, I can do it too.” Now, a lot of people are liking it. As far as down there on the coast, down at Alan Belcher’s gym, everybody’s loving it. We gonna get personal, new promotions started up.
I just started my fight promotion with me and a couple of my buddies –we’re having some fights March 30– called Empire FC, and we got all the best pros and amateurs around on our card, we’re trying to get Mississippi and these southern states on the map. Nobody knows about all the southern states, but they’re starting to slowly and surely find out.
D: Did the attraction of BKFC and UFC/MMA bring energy and people to your gym?
JK: I got about 60 members, about half of them are kids. Every adult male that’s there, at least 10 of them are wanting to be fighters; they are really taking it seriously. They’re pushing themselves to get better at Jiu-Jitsu, to get better at wrestling, and we a lot of potential. And, I think all of that stems from these guys that watch me do it so they know its possible. I started this at 14. I wasn’t good. When I started fighting, I made myself get better, I made myself learn stuff, and I think these guys see that as well.
D:What is the next chapter in your career in combat sports?
JK: What I wanna do for myself, first off, is as soon as this Bare Knuckle’s over with, I’m gonna try and get into like EBI, something like that.I wanna try to get in these submission only grappling tournaments, like even some Combat Jiu-Jitsu. I’m a one stripe brown belt under Alan Belcher. and I wanna work on getting that black belt. that’s the first step for me. gonna slowly but surely work on get my black belt. Imma get back to Uriah Faber and try to work on my wrestling as much as possible, get out to Donald Cerrone — work on my wrestling out there,stand up, everything — just surely but slowly fix all the flaws that are in my game, and maybe later take another MMA fight. With the Empire FC I hope I can get on Fight Pass. We’re gonna have submission- only grappling fights, Toughman competitions, like slug fests, we’re gonna have Muay Thai fights, K1 style fights and Boxing. We’re gonna do a different promotion than nobody has ever done and try to mix it up a little bit.
Catch Jason Knight at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum on April 6th as he takes on Artem Lobov. Tickets are still available.