Redemption: Second Chances on Dana White’s Contender Series — William Knight

William Knight Contender Series
William Knight Credit: Rodney James Edgar/Cageside Press

Dana White’s Contender Series began back in 2017. Since then, the Contender Series has produced some big-name upcoming stars like Dan Ige, Sean O’Malley, Geoff Neal, Maycee Barber, and Edmen Shahbazyan. In short, it has been a huge success.

A Contender Series fight is one that has stakes like none other, where fighters must showcase their skills to impress the UFC president enough for a contract with the promotional giant.  Holding the Contender Series with a smaller cage inside the UFC Apex venue makes for a tense atmosphere, and with only close friends and family of the competing fighters in attendance as spectators. Emotions always run high, as a limited amount of contracts can be given out on any given night, and many fighters can potentially have their dreams snubbed out solely because of bad luck.

In rare cases, however, a fighter gets a second look. This series will examine those.

William “Knightmare” Knight (7-1 MMA)

Age: 32 years old

Height: 5’10”

Weight Class: Light Heavyweight (205lbs)

First DW’s Contender Series Fight: 2019 (Week 8)

Old DW’s Contender Series Opponent: Herdem Alacabek (5-1 MMA)

Second DW’s Contender Series Fight:  2020 (Week 5)

New Opponent: Cody Brundage (5-0 MMA)

First DWCS Fight

In 2019 William Knight was one half of the main event for Week 8 of the Contender Series. Knight took on Herdem Alacabek in a fight that was back in forth at times but saw Alacabek controlling the majority of the fight.

Knight heavily relied on his physicality and low center of gravity in grappling exchanges. And Knight showed a lot of strength in the clinch but was highly susceptible to knees from his opponent, the taller man. The majority of this fight took place in the clinch or on the ground. Knight showed good takedown attempts and pressure against the cage but, looked a little uncomfortable in long-distance striking exchanges.

William also showed a good ability to survive on the ground and escape tough positions when his opponent was able to take him down. Knight has an excellent scrambling ability for such a physically large and muscular bound man.

Great heart and cardio were shown from Knight in order to compete and put pressure on his opponent for the entirety of the fight until he finally got his opponent to crumble. Knight finished his opponent Herdem Alacabek in the third round of their bout via ground and pound after a jumping knee.

Though William Knight got the finish over his opponent and showed all the great attributes you’d want to see in a UFC fighter, it was pretty obvious that he was a bit inexperienced.  Knight had only been training for 15 months at the time of his Contender Series fight.

Dana White ultimately put Knight into the developmental program to avoid burning out a fighter that was so ‘green’ at the time.

Contender Series Opponent 

William Knight’s first Contender Series opponent in 2019 was then 5-0 fighter Herdem Alacabek. Herdem has not fought since his loss to Knight last year but the combined record of all of his professional opponents was 10-6 at the time of the DWCS fight.

Herdem was also significantly taller than his opponent (6’2″ compared to 5’10”) as well as having a longer reach- 75″ compared to 73″. Alacabek looked slightly more technically sound and experienced than Knight which is what made his win all the more impressive.

The Road Back 

Since fighting on DWCS last year, Knight has competed in 3 professional mixed martial arts bouts.

Knight took on 9-5, Jamelle Jones just two months after his Contender Series fight. This fight was held in the heavyweight division, but Knight weighed in at just 218lbs. After almost a full first round, Knight finished Jones with strikes to get the win.

Next Knight took on the 2-0, Tafon Nchukwi in a catchweight bout at 225lbs. Knight was finished in the first round of the bout. It’s worth noting that Nchukwi has finished all of his amateur and professional opponents and is actually getting a shot on the Contender Series himself next week (Week 6).

In late January, earlier this year, Knight fought the 12-9-1, Rocky Edwards. Edwards has a lot of experience and has fought UFC caliber talent before, being 37 years old. Knight was able to get the finish, midway through the final round.

Gameplan/ New Opponent  

When Knight fights on DWCS, the fans and Dana will truly get an opportunity at seeing just how much this fighter has progressed and learned in the past year. Knight looked very ‘green’ in his first appearance on the Contender Series, but understandably so because it was just 15 months into his MMA career. Fans could expect to see a much more technically sound fighter out of Knight as with that little time in the sport, he can’t help but get better with more training, and potentially at an exponential rate.

This time around, Knight will be taking on another 5-0 fighter, Cody Brundage, for his second trip to the Contender Series. Brundage stands at 6’1″. Brundage’s opponent’s combined records, going into their bouts with him were 29-33.