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Knight on UFC release: I went from ‘fighting for fun’ to ‘I had to fight to get the money’

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Jason Knight opened up about his recent UFC release and how success led him to debt and took the fun out of fighting.

Jason Knight BKFC Artem Lobov Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Knight’s ascension to fan favorite status happened fast. A lot faster than what most, even very talented fighters get to experience. Following hard fought, but not exceptionally inspiring loss to Tatsuya Kawajiri, Knight won performance bonuses in three of his next four bouts, while stringing together four straight wins in under a year’s time.

His wins over Dan Hooker, Alex Caceres, and Chas Skelly were enough to net him a spot in the featherweight rankings, and to get him an elite opponent next time out. Former title challenger Ricardo Lamas. Lamas bulldozed Knight on his way to a first round TKO. After that, the fighter affectionately known as ‘Hick Diaz’ would go on to lose each of his next three bouts. From a four fight win streak to a four fight losing streak, seemingly in the blink of an eye.

On January 10th, Knight announced that the UFC had released him from his contract. In a recent interview with MMA Fighting, he explained exactly how so much success turned into failure so fast.

“I got caught up in the lifestyle,” Knight said. “I won four fights in a row in the UFC, I made several hundred thousand dollars. I went from making a hundred thousand dollars a fight and being able to live that lifestyle of having a hundred thousand dollars in my account to after the Ricardo Lamas fight I only had a $30,000 paycheck. I still tried to live the hundred thousand dollar lifestyle for a while like I had that money there.

“Next thing you know I started getting myself in debt and it went from I was fighting for fun to I had to fight to get the money. I had to get this money to get my life back straight, to get back on top. What I’m doing right now I’m pretty much completely out of debt and I’m getting my life to where I don’t have to worry about fighting to provide for my family and stuff. I’m providing for my family outside of that so I can get back to fighting for the love of the fight.”

Reportedly Knight has opened his own MMA gym under the guidance of former UFC middleweight Alan Belcher, from which he hopes to develop a more stable income outside of his fight purses. He’s also pursuing the possibility of fighting for RIZIN or ONE Championship if he doesn’t end up with one of the several notable promotions on the North American scene. No word yet on exactly when he plans on making his return to competition.