Imposing Connecticut native William Knight (7-1) has long been a top dog in the New England ranks, leading many to believe that he is New England’s Next fighter to break onto MMA’s biggest stage.
The 32-year-old light heavyweight is back for his second fight in two years and ready to earn a UFC contract on Tuesday’s Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS).
First appearing on DWCS in August of 2019, William Knight gained a developmental deal from the UFC’s head honcho following a third-round knockout of Herdem Alacabek (5-1). After going 2-1 since his victory over Alacabek on the Contender Series, Knight will face Michigan’s Cody Brundage (5-0) in his latest attempt at an outright UFC opportunity.
Knight is a fighter on the New England scene who has become a name to remember, and for good reason.
A mainstay of Rhode Island-based Classic Entertainment & Sports (CES) MMA and a native of Hartford, Connecticut, Knight stands at 5’10” with a 73″ reach.
With all seven of his victories coming by finish, Knight is looking to show White that he is ready for a promotion to the UFC. Speaking to MMA-Prospects, Knight’s manager, Top Game Management’s Tyson Chartier, cleared up the odd situation of being on a UFC “developmental deal” while also competing again on the Contender Series.
“He [Knight] is already in the UFC,” Chartier told MMA-Prospects. “While everyone else is fighting for a contract, he is fighting to move up; he is in the [U.S. Anti-Doping Agency] USADA testing pool. The goal is to show the world we belong with the rest of the UFC light heavyweight division and get on a UFC card next.”
While Knight continues his goal of fighting for the UFC with his second appearance on DWCS, it hasn’t always an easy road. Knight only began his professional MMA career in 2018, at the ripe old (for beginning an MMA career, at least) age of 30. After a rough upbringing and a decade of the 9-5 lifestyle many of us call a reality, Knight in his early 30’s had found a new path.
“I was sheltered by my Grandma,” Knight told MMA-Prospects. “Sheltered because of bullying [and] racism that I’ve faced. My grandmother wanted me to go to school, ignore everyone, and come home; that was it.
“I was bullied a lot,” recalled Knight, “so I joined the wrestling team in high school, and learned to love to compete.”
Knight continued on the interesting road that brought him to the UFC developmental deal, and another appearance on the Contender Series.
“After high school, I didn’t know you could do all of this,” Knight spoke. “For ten years I just lived my life, played video games, provided for my family; lots of working, clocking in and out of work, and just living life.”
It wasn’t until an old friend from Knight’s childhood brought him to Thornton MMA & Fitness that he re-discovered that love for competing. The gym, owned by Edward Thornton and located in Hartford, CT, became a staple of Knight’s day-to-day routine. Now eight professional bouts later, the UFC awaits.
“My childhood friend was getting his hand raised in the cage, so I asked him and he brought me to Thornton’s,” said Knight. “Thornton’s focuses on superior striking. We don’t only striking, though, but our striking is superior and that has been my last four years.”
Back in August of 2019, Knight defeated Alacabek via third-round stoppage by way of ground & pound. In Week 5 of the 2020 installment of Contender Series, Knight isn’t worried about what Cody Brundage is going to do, and is just excited to show Dana White another finishing sequence.
“Whatever [Brundage] wants to do, he can do. He will be fighting my fight,” Knight explained. “I know the walk, I know the skeletons. My last fight, I showed what I could do for three rounds; this fight, I’m showing Dana a finish.
“My last opponent was supposed to end me, that didn’t happen,” Knight continued. “Now, [they’re] bringing in another kid who is supposed to put me away… I love these fights. He will try to finish me, and it won’t go that way. I know I can end the fight when I want to.”
The Connecticut native did state that precautions and restrictions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have made this a challenging fight camp, but Knight credits his coaches for having powered him through it.
As for a prediction for his DWCS bout, Knight is ready to show Dana a spectacular finish.
“The eyes on me, a first-round finish,” Knight predicted. “Go in, get out, get some food, and see my family.”