Los Angeles, CA — While talk of boxers crossing over to MMA seems to fire up every month, few practitioners of the sweet science have actually made the jump. That said, Bellator has mined some of women’s boxing’s best athletes in recent years. Saturday at Bellator 238, Ava Knight made the walk to the cage for the second time — only to found herself choked out by Emilee King.
There were a lot of unique plot twists to this fight. King’s husband Jason was fighting immediately after her, against kickboxing ace Raymond Daniels (who himself is married to a fighter, Colbey Northcutt). And coincidentally, one of King’s coaches and teammates at Knoxville Martial Arts Academy, Taylor Turner, had experience with a boxer crossing over: Heather Hardy.
There are a number of parallels to be drawn between Hardy and Knight. Both had impressive debuts for Bellator MMA. And both found themselves finished in their sophomore outing: Hardy by Kristina Williams, Knight by King on Saturday in Los Angeles.
Turner was in King’s corner at Bellator 238. And was a huge help to her ahead of the bout with boxing champ Knight. “So we absolutely did read into that fight,” King told Cageside Press while speaking to media outlets backstage at The Forum in L.A. “I relied heavily on coach Taylor, not only for my strength and conditioning and as a mentor, but she relived some of her experiences with the Heather Hardy fight with me, and that was a huge asset for me during this fight camp.”
King was in the midst of a bittersweet moment it seemed. All smiles because of the win, but having seen her husband finished in his own fight. “Having my husband on the same card, like marriage, there’s ups and downs,” said King, before adding that “I’m proud of my husband, I’m proud of my team, I’m proud of my performance. I’m very honored to be on the Bellator stage tonight.”
Asked if she would do it again, King did not hesitate. “Oh hell yes! I would do it again, absolutely.”
For King, the rear-naked choke submission marked her fourth straight victory, after starting her pro career 0-3. She doesn’t actually remember how she got the fight with Knight to the ground. “My whole goal was to just get to the ground,” she said. “I knew once I hit the ground I was fine. So not exactly sure what takedown I hit, we worked several throughout the game plan, it might have just been a guard pull to be honest.”
Once they hit the mat, “it was just hunting for the submissions. I threw up a couple things, they didn’t feel quite right. Then that last one, I was like ‘I’m under the chin, I know this one feels right so I’m just going to wait it out.'”
As for what’s next, she’ll be back in the gym shortly, helping out teammates prepare for hteir own fights. But if Bellator ever heads to Tennessee, she’s on board. “I would love that! Hopefully the Knoxville fans would too.”
Watch the full Bellator 238 post-fight press conference with Emilee King above!