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Jason Knight ready for Bruce Leeroy, then wants a battle with Korean Superboy

Matthew Wells

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The UFC’s featherweight division is as hot as it’s ever been with rising stars in Yair Rodriguez, a pending title unification bout between Max Holloway and Jose Aldo, and the 2016 Fight of the Year between Cub Swanson and Do Hoo Choi. One man who wants to climb the ranks and be mentioned among the top names in the division is Jason “The Kid” Knight.

Currently knocking on the door of the top 15, Knight is still on the outside looking in but plans to change that on January 28. He’s scheduled to face his toughest opponent to date in Denver, Colorado in Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres, who may hold the key to earning a spot in the featherweight rankings.

“Bruce Leeroy’s got all these crazy kicks, crazy punches, and stuff,” Knight said speaking exclusively with MMA Latest. “It’s gonna be hard to deal with his flashy style, but I believe if I get in there and get in his face, grit my teeth, make it a nasty fight, hit him hard and put a whole lot of pressure on him, I believe I can make him fold under the pressure.”

Biting down on his mouthpiece and making fights ugly is exactly the type of fight that Knight loves to be in, which usually results in fan-favorite battles. With only three UFC fights under his belt, he has already earned one Fight of the Night bonus for his war with Jim Alers in July. It is a style he’s come to learn from training with bigger guys in the gym day in and day out.

“If I stay at range and let them get comfortable, then they’ll pick me apart,” Knight said. “In order to not get picked apart, I grit my teeth, get right in their face and make it a dogfight. I’m better than a lot of people at that brawling style.”

Watching Knight perform in the Octagon, it’s tough to miss the parallels between him and Donald Cerrone. It’s not just the similar cut of their Reebok shorts – both men are aggressive, powerful strikers who always wear a mean scowl on their face as they stalk their opponent inside the cage.

“I’ve had quite a few people say that I remind them of Donald Cerrone,” said Knight. “It’s not like I personally try to be like Donald Cerrone, it’s just always a style I’ve always done, you know? That’s what I’ve always known. My pressure, my grit, my determination, my hunger usually gets it done for me. If the other guy doesn’t want it as much as I do, then I go out there and show the world that he doesn’t want it as bad as I do.”

Knight showed everyone how much he wanted a win in his previous outing against Daniel Hooker in November. The Australian crowd initially didn’t appreciate him earning a victory over their homeland fighter, however, Knight did his best to convince the fans that he wasn’t trying to play the role of a bad guy, nor did he set out to create enemies.

“Right when they gave me the microphone (after the fight), they didn’t even want to let me talk,” explained Knight. “They were shutting me down with boos and they didn’t want to hear nothing I had to say. I got em to calm down for a second, just long enough for them to listen to me and I think they realized, ‘Hey, he’s right. He didn’t come over here to beat one of our guys, he came to fight the guy they put in front of him.'”

It was a move that resonated with the local fans who showed their appreciation for his honest approach. “I had about 10 or 15 guys come up to me and say, ‘Hey man, I just want to apologize. I was one of the ones booing you, but man you gained a lot of respect from me. I love the way you fight, I love your attitude, thank you so much for not being a prick,'” said Knight.

Although he has a tough test in front of him in Colorado, Knight already has his eyes set on his next opponent should everything go his way on January 28th. “Before I got this fight, I was trying to call out the Korean Superboy – that’s who I want to fight (next),” said Knight.

“I watched his fight with Cub Swanson, and yeah, I would really love to fight Cub Swanson too, but that’s light years ahead of where I’m at right now – Cub Swanson is too high up in the rankings, I know that fight is not even a possibility right now. I watched that fight, you see that same grit, the same determination – no matter what, no matter how bad they were hurt, they wanted to win the fight. They never stopped fighting hard. I believe that me and the Korean Superboy, if we get in there, we’re just gonna grit our teeth and it’s gonna be a nasty dog fight.”

“That’s the kind of fight I want. I want something to solidify my name – to etch my name in stone,” Knight continued. “I believe that me and Korean Superboy, we could go out there and make that kind of fight happen.”

Not getting too ahead of himself, Knight’s focus is solely on Alex Caceres for the time being, which is a fight that brings an added elemental challenge in Denver. “The altitude is probably the only thing I’m concerned about,” Knight admitted. “I’m leaving this Saturday to try to get acclimated a little better. I have an altitude machine at my house that my coach had, I’ve been trying to get on it at least an hour or two a day to try to somewhat get acclimated.”

Regardless of the effects of fighting in the Mile-High City may have on his cardio, expect no shortage of effort from Knight. “I’ve got enough heart, I’ve got enough want-to, I’ve got enough determination that, even if I can’t breathe after the first round – the second and third round, my heart’s gonna push me through it to the end. I’m a little bit worried about it, but I know at the same time – win, lose, or draw, I will never quit fighting until the fight’s over.”

“Bruce Leeroy, you better watch out baby, because I’m coming for you. You’re in my way, and I plan on getting you out of my way. You’re the next person that stops me from climbing those rankings, and I don’t plan on going backward. I’m only moving forward from here on out, so, you better come ready.”

Full audio from the interview can be heard below:
Listen to “#61 – Interview with Jason “The Kid” Knight” on Spreaker.

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Dana White gives update on Conor McGregor and the lightweight division

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The top end of the UFC’s lightweight division is thriving. Dustin Poirer defeated former division champion Anthony Pettis, in dominant fashion. Tony Ferguson won the lightweight division’s interim title by carving Kevin Lee from his back. Safe to say, no everyday person would ever want to see Khabib Nurmagomedov down a damp and dark alley. Don’t forget, the gutsy performance of Eddie Alvarez stealing Justin Gaethje’s undefeated record away.  The division is thriving like gas attempting to escape a shaken champagne bottle.

On Friday, UFC President, Dana White, spoke to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, about a number of topics. One, which came up fairly quickly; Conor McGregor and his stranglehold on the lightweight belt. The pair began talking about recent performances inside the octagon when the illustrious name of, Khabib Nurmagomedov, came up. White claimed, “Conor always finds a way to win. When he hits you, you go…”. Then speaking of the potential bout between Nurmagomedov and McGregor, “I love that matchup but, Tony Ferguson is the interim champion. Conor and I haven’t really figured out when he’s coming back and what’s going on…”. He continued, “I don’t think Conor wants to fight until August, but if he waits until August or September, that’s around two years since the belt has been defended and that can’t happen”.

Iole followed up by asking, due to circumstances, does McGregor owe it to the sport to defend his title? The UFC president agreed, “And to the other fighters. Not only to the sport but, to the other fighters. This is a game of time… when you’re a professional athlete, time is your enemy and we can’t let this thing go on forever and not give other guys the opportunity. Tony Ferguson has been around for a long time and has earned his dues, Khabib has earned his dues… Conor has done very well, he’s made a lot of money, and if he decides that he doesn’t want to fight again for another however long that’s up to him… but, the belt has to move on… we gotta figure some stuff out here in the next couple months”.

It only makes sense that the UFC wants progression in the one-hundred and fifty-five lb. division. Even without their massive revenue generator, the division must move on. Athletes like Nurmagomedov may be relatively unknown outside the MMA community in the United States but, his official Instagram page holds 3.2 million followers.  While Tony Ferguson may not hold online notoriety, he does have an exciting style. A style that could win a good many of fans, the more exposure he receives.

For White, one of these two men must fight for the division’s championship title. When asked about what is next, he stated, “As long as Conor is willing to fight by March, we could do Khabib versus Tony and then the winner fights Conor… or Conor doesn’t wanna fight and wants to sit out till next fall. Then we would have to make Khabib vs. Tony for the title”.

Time can be the only truth serum in this particular situation. The UFC brass has spoken of forcing McGregor to vacate his lightweight title for some time. Yet, nothing has happened. On the other hand, it would be more than surprising to see the division’s belt sit on the shelf for another year. Considering it all, including the status of contenders and depth of the division, the bottleneck created by one man never ceases to amaze.

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Exclusive: Neil Magny: “It’s going to come down to fighting tooth and nail”

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On Saturday, December 30th, Neil Magny steps back into the Octagon as he takes on the returning Carlos Condit. Magny’s had a rough past couple of months as the 6’3 welterweight has alternated wins and losses as well as fighting a lot less than usual. Magny was known as one of the most active fighters on the UFC roster until injuries started to take away from his time in the cage.

Welcoming Magny back to the cage is a man who is also making his return after a long layoff, Carlos Condit. Fans and even Magny have been waiting a long time for the fight to come together.

I love this fight, this a fight I’ve been chasing for nearly two years now,” Magny told MMA Latest. “The fight’s going to be happening this Saturday and I’m excited for it.”

Condit hasn’t competed since he lost to Demian Maia back in August 2016. The Jackson-Wink product lost via first round rear-naked choke, the loss prompted a semi-retirement that left everyone unsure if he would ever return. The time spent away from the cage could potentially bring upon the universally hated “ring-rust”.

Not at all,” Magny said as he shot down any talks of ring-rust. “I mean, if anything, I would be more affected by ring rust than he is. I mean, I’m a guy who likes to compete all throughout the years. This is the least amount of fights I’ve had in a year- in awhile- I don’t think the ring rust will be a factor at all and I can’t let that allow me to think that this fight will be easier because of that.”

With Condit’s return being the big story in this fight, it’s easy to think Magny’s been swept under the rug. The fan-favorite has been loved for his tendency to turn every fight into a brawl and putting everything on the line. The hype and excitement haven’t lead Magny to believe he’s being overlooked.

Not all,” Magny says with a shrug. “I don’t feel like I’m being overlooked in this fight at all. There’s a lot of pressure, a lot of hype around Condit going into this fight. But yeah I don’t consider it a bad thing at all. I know I’m focused on what I need to do and I spend most of my time focusing on that rather than the other possibilities or what media attention is drawn to that kind of thing.”

Condit’s tendency to turn his fights into brawls is something Magny’s comfortable with, as technique and advantages tend to fly out the window. The Colorado native is honest about where his strengths are.

This is a fight where it’s going to be a fight and turn into a brawl and were going to fight tooth and nail,” Magny said. “Going into this fight I don’t have the grappling advantage, the submission advantage, I don’t have the significant striking advantage. So anywhere this fight goes it’s not going to be one guy just outclassing the other guy. I know it’s going to come down to fighting tooth and nail or anything that will win this fight. So that’s something that I’m looking forward to the most- going out there and allowing this fight to go down successfully.”

Magny’s rough patch continued in his last fight when he lost to former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos by submission. While a good chunk of fighters have a tendency to dwell on losses, Magny’s moved on and, more importantly, he’s learned from his mistakes.

I could backtrack and pick the fight apart and find a thousand things I did wrong and things I could’ve done differently,” Magny begin to explain. “But at the end of the day, it is what it is. There’s nothing I can do to change the outcome of the fight, all I can do is make sure I’m as prepared as I can be for this fight. That’s what I’ve been spending my time focusing on as well as covering every angle going into this fight mentally, physically, and emotionally. Everything I need to do to be successful in this fight I’ll do it.”

Although Magny’s moved on from the loss, that hasn’t stopped him from making changes in his lead up to fights.

Since my last fight one of the main things I changed in my training camp was the use of a sports physiatrist,” Magny said. “I noticed for these last four fights I got myself into tough positions all three have been lackluster fights that I wasn’t too proud of. Coming into this fight we’ll be sure to work on all angles and we’ll see if the talks and working with a sports physiologist will make a difference. I have no idea but the thing about it is that I want to be as prepared as possible.”

Welterweight contender Kamaru Usman claimed that Magny was going to fight him, that is until Magny accepted the fight with Condit.

No, nothing was ever set for Usman and I to ever fight,” Magny said. “I was in a position where I was coming off a loss and it didn’t matter who I fought next. I was just eager to get that nasty taste out of my mouth from the last fight. So he’s done his usual call me out on Twitter call me out on Instagram wherever he could I was just like ‘meh whatever, if you really want to fight me I’m available, I’m interested in doing it right away’ so why not take the matchup sooner and get the taste out of my mouth.”

Although the fight with Usman isn’t happening, the fight with Condit definitely is. So what does Magny predict?

I see me going out there and just winning any way I see,” Magny said. “Whether its a decision where we go back and forth and go all out war, or me getting the TKO, submission, or knockout. I mean, I’m just looking forward to going out there and getting my hand raised.”

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UFC 219’s Dan Hooker: Fighting in Perth Would Be an “Ideal Situation.”

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New Zealander Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker is somewhat of a UFC veteran these days. On the 30th December Hooker will make his eighth UFC appearance, facing Marc Diakiese at UFC 219 in Las Vegas.

The card is a marquee event with some of the biggest names in the sport competing, but Hooker isn’t letting the magnitude of the event affect his preparation.

“It’s something you can look back on tell people you fought on a big card in Las Vegas, so it’s a milestone,” the Kiwi explained. “But when you’re focused on it you have to take every fight as just another fight. You can’t let the moment overwhelm you, or distract you.”

Hooker admitted to not knowing much about his opponent, Englishman, Diakiese, when the fight was announced. “I hadn’t seen him fight before we got matched, but he’s a big name in the UK so I’m looking forward to it”

Twenty-seven year old Hooker is just happy to fight. He had planned on fighting in Sydney this past November. “I had an infection in my knee which ruled me out of Sydney. I’m glad they can get me on [a card] before the end of the year.”

The Kiwi last fought at home on the UFC Auckland card in June, defeating veteran Ross Pearson with a devastating knee that KO’d his foe in round two. A fight that proved he belonged with the best in the world.

“It’s where I believe my skills are at. I’m showing everyone else what I know I’m capable of,” he said of the fight. “I think I’m capable of much more so I’m looking forward to getting back in there and doing it all again.”

The Pearson bout was Hooker’s first in the UFC’s lightweight division, having fought his first six bouts at featherweight, ten pounds below at 145 pounds. Hooker now intends to make 155 his home, and isn’t concerned about size difference.

“I’m not going back to 145, 155 is where it’s at. I’m more likely to go up than down,” Hooker said. “I just feel my skills have caught up, even if someone is carrying more size than me, I can beat them with my skill.”

There has been scrutiny in recent times due to weight cutting in the sport and new rules have been implemented by the UFC and various commissions to make to process safer. But not much is different, according to Hooker.

“It hasn’t changed anything. The bigger guys are still here and still cutting the same amount of weight.” Hooker also expressed his concern that more divisions would do more harm than good.

“You might get the opposite effect where guys are coming down even further, thinking its not ten pounds of weight, it’s only five pounds. Everyone needs to move up a weight class and fight at their natural weight. Lifestyle wise and longevity wise it’s going to pay off.”

A big reason why 155 is where it’s at is because of Conor McGregor. McGregor is currently the champion in Hooker’s division, yet he has been inactive for over a year and shows no signs in returning any time soon. Hooker isn’t holding his breath on the prospect of the Irishman fighting again.

“I’m not getting off the couch with a 100 million dollars in the bank, I’ll tell you that. I’ve never seen a fat lion running around chasing antelope in the desert, it just doesn’t happen,” Hooker joked.

While Hooker doesn’t see the UFC stripping McGregor anytime soon, he’s indifferent about the use of interim belts in the UFC. Tony Ferguson is the current interim champion in the lightweight division and Hooker thinks he should be next in line.

“The UFC have offered Tony [Ferguson] to defend his interim title. Defending an interim title is where I draw the line. It should be your golden ticket to a title shot, or don’t hand it out”

Interim titles aside, the stage is set for the New Zealander at UFC 219 in front of a large global audience. He aims to make his way up the lightweight ladder towards a prestigious top 15 spot on the roster.

Hooker is one of a few New Zealand based fighters making a run in the UFC. Shane Young made his debut this year, as did Luke Jumeau. Both often train alongside Hooker at City Kickboxing in Auckland. Hooker also suggested that the undefeated striker, Israel Adesanya will be next Kiwi fighter to join the UFC roster.

“The New Zealand market has quite a big talent pool and we’re able to get multiple New Zealand fighters in the UFC. It’s a really good sign.”

As for 2018, Hooker isn’t looking too far ahead as the nature of the sport of MMA means an injury can be just around the corner. If Hooker does come out unscathed – and victorious – then he has a plan in mind.

“I’d like to fight as soon as possible. I’d like to catch up to the Aussies and New Zealanders who got to fight in Sydney and will be fighting in Perth. If I can catch up in Perth then that would be the ideal situation.”

The Perth card would certainly make sense for Hooker. A win against Diakiese would give him his first win streak of his UFC career and set him up for even bigger fights in 2018. For now, Hooker is focused on his English opponent and ending his year on a high.

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