UFC 271’s curtain jerker was not supposed to be a heavyweight match-up. In fact, it wasn’t supposed to open up the Houston card at all. But after William Knight blew weight by a full 12 pounds for his light heavyweight bout with Maxim Grishin, the fight was moved up a full weight class — and demoted to the early prelims.
In any other weight class, there wouldn’t have been a fight at all. But with Grishin weighing in at 206lbs on Friday, right at the light heavyweight upper limit, and having competed as a heavyweight before, the bout was at least salvaged.
The early going of Knight vs. Grishin, when it did arrive Saturday, was a measured affair. The pair traded kicks, Knight firing a few to the body. Grishin went with outside leg kicks, and drew first blood, so to speak, when he cracked Knight with a head kick. Knight was able to shrug it off, but the height and reach advantage of Maxim Grishin had made itself felt. Grishin would fire that high kick again about a minute and a half later, but telegraphed it. Through most of the first round, Knight was on his back foot, Grishin keeping him at the end of his strikes.
Knight opened round two with a leg kick, then fired a spinning kick that fell well short. It was something of a low-percentage attack, but William went back to some of his flashier kicks more than once. Grishin, meanwhile, kept things simple, and a low calf kick had the desired effect, Knight pulling the limb back. Shortly after, Grishin landed a right hand, which prompted Knight to change levels for a takedown. Just when it looked like the takedown was all but stuffed, Knight forced Grishin down. As the Russian started to get up, Knight essentially executed a belly-to-back suplex, only for Grishin to turn and land on top. They’d make it back up with about a minute to go, Grishin again connecting with a low kick.
William Knight took a big swing, but found only air to kick off the third round against Maxim Grishin. He’d then bully Grishin to the fence, landing a spinning back fist while off-balance, only for Grishin to land a counter. This time, Grishin was able to stay on his feet and reverse. Knight, however, returned the favor, reversing again. Grishin answered by escaping out to the side. Knight would then land a jab, and double up on it moments later, backing Grishin up to the fence again. Knight went after a single leg takedown, and though it wasn’t there, Grishin fired a lazy body kick which Knight easily caught, dumping Grishin. That could have been a game-changer for Knight, but Grishin was able to escape.
While Grishin looked to be tiring in the final round, it was far too late for Knight to mount a comeback. Grishin would take the win on the scorecards — in a bout many fighters might have declined, given the enormous miss at the scales on Friday.
Official Result: Maxim Grishin def. William Knight by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)