(May 8, 2023) – William “The Knightmare” Knight (11-5) is on a mission. The 35-year-old from Hartford, CT has heard all the criticism that follows a 3-fight skid and felt all the backlash concerning his lackluster performance against Marcin Prachnio on UFC Fight Night 219.
Chief amongst his tormentors is his opponent at CES MMA 73 this Friday, Domingos Barros (7-1), who faces Knight for the CES MMA Heavyweight Championship at the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, MA. The bout will also be shown live on UFC Fight Pass.
“It started as soon as the fight was announced,” says Knight of the bad blood between him and Barros. “He started disrespecting me, calling me a coward and saying that I’m too small for the heavyweight division.”
Knight attributes much of the disrespect to his unanimous decision loss to Prachnio in February, when the Hartford native simply never got going as his Polish opponent landed a series of hellacious leg kicks over 3 rounds that would have crippled lesser opponents.
“I messed up in my last fight because I wasn’t mentally there,” admits Knight. “It was the last fight on my UFC contract and I was on the main card for the world to see, and I didn’t perform.”
While Knight takes accountability for his performance, he explains that the bout came at one of the lowest points in his life as he was grieving the loss of several family members who passed away over the last year.
“Between July of 2022 and last February, I lost 7 family members,” laments Knight. “I lost my grandfather, who was the heart of the family. Then my grandmother, then a few cousins. The burden of death was on me – I went to so many funerals in such a short period of time. You know what it feels like to see people you care about in sorrow and broken? And I’m sitting here trying to be strong and thinking I have to get ready for these fights.”
While Knight boiled down from 250 lbs. to the 206 lbs. weight limit and looked in phenomenal shape ahead of the Prachnio clash, the death toll impacted his psyche in ways that he didn’t anticipate.
“I made weight and looked like a demon,” explains Knight. “But just before the fight, someone said ‘remember that you’re doing this for your grandmother and your grandfather,’ and that reminded me. I was fighting someone I should’ve walked through, and all of this anguish resurfaced.”
As a result of the loss, the UFC opted not to re-sign Knight and he was left to deal with the harsh criticism that followed, which can be particularly unforgiving on social media.
“Nobody knew what I went through, and everyone forgot what I had done before,” says Knight. “It’s like what happened to Usman. Everyone clowned him like he didn’t hold down the number 1 spot all those years. The same with Adesanya. The same with Jon Jones when he got into a little trouble. They tried to clown him but he came back like a monster once he was mentally there. People forget, and that will be their downfall. I am the same monster who fought Alonzo Menifield, Aleksa Camur, and Fabio Cherant. I’m the same tyrant that fought Cody Bundrage on the Contender series. I’m still the beast from 2019 who was taking 2 fights in one month.”
Enter Domingos “The Destroyer” Barros. The Cape Verdean is a rising star in the MMA world with 7 wins in 8 fights while competing on Bellator and PFC cards. The 31-year-old is hoping to make a name for himself against the UFC veteran and has been vocal about his chances of beating Knight on Friday night.
While Knight was ok with some pre-fight banter, he feels that Barros crossed the line when he began making physical threats.
“He threatened me and took it outside of fighting,” says Knight. “Don’t say ‘send an address and I’ll come see you’. You don’t know where I come from. He took it too far. All bets are off. I’m not coming to the cage to fight you – I’m coming to end you.”
The back-and-forth on social media reignited a fire in Knight that he needed to take himself to dark places in training.
“I fuel myself off that,” says an animated Knight. “The training I do now is crazy. I’m fighting at a weight that I walk around. I’m healthy and I don’t have to cut weight, so I’m focused on technicals, striking and sparring. This is what I needed to wake back up.”
Knight takes exception to the Barros team’s claims that he’s too small for the heavyweight division, noting that it is experience that will be the determining factor on fight night.
“The only thing he has on me is a little height and weight,” says Knight. “That was never a problem for me. I fought dudes bigger than him. I train with people bigger than him. I’ve been training with Parker Porter and you saw what he just did. All the dudes I beat or lost to say I’m the hardest hitting opponent they’ve ever faced. They don’t want to engage with me because of how hard I hit. And this dude thinks he’s Superman or something? Show me the level of competition that you fought compared to mine. My amateur record is better than his professional record. You think I’m scared? I said yes without looking him up when CES offered me the fight.”
As if he needed any extra motivation, the bout is a title fight for the vacant CES Heavyweight Championship, a belt that The Knightmare wants to add to his collection.
“I’ve never lost a title fight,” states a confident Knight. “There’s something about titles that make me go harder in training and give me that mindset to destroy. You’re going in there with a killer, and there’s nothing you can do or say to me that’s going to change the mindset I’m in.”
Having overcome the grief of lost family members and the harsh criticism following his last performance, Knight believes that he is in the perfect mind frame to deliver a devastating performance on Friday night for all to see live on UFC Fight Pass and in-person at the iconic North Shore Music Theater.
“I have no respect for this dude leading up to this fight, and me not having respect is a dangerous thing,” insists Knight. “I’m not saying this for attention – I really mean it. This fire is burning. Y’all want to see something dangerous, tune in on Friday. I’m going in like when I fought Menifield, Fabio, Camur. I’m going out there to hunt your soul. I’m going in with evil intentions, and I’m going to get it done. Wait until Friday.”
CES MMA 73 – Knight vs. Barros takes place this Friday, May 12th at the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, MA. Tickets on sale now, priced at $50, $70, $100 and $125. Fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets early, as this event is expected to sell out quickly.
Knight vs. Barros tops a stacked card featuring some of New England’s top amateur and professional fighters, including West Haven’s Eddy George (6-0) facing Yemi Oduwale (9-4) in a lightweight contest, a featherweight matchup between New Hampshire’s Brandon Marotte (7-1) and Danbury CT’s Regivaldo Carvalho (7-4).
BONUS COVERAGE: CES is excited to announce that we will be streaming two free bonus bouts starting at 8pm EST on our CES MMA Facebook page. This first bout is a grappling showdown featuring UFC veteran and BJJ blackbelt John “Doomsday” Howard squaring off against Bellator veteran and BJJ brown belt Mike Zichelle. The second bout features an amateur super fight showcasing local sensation Lucas Rosa against fellow prospect Randy Francis.
Mark your calendars and get ready for an unforgettable night of combat sports. With our free bonus fights, you won’t want to miss a second of the action. Tune in to our broadcast and experience the excitement for yourself!
For more information on CES MMA 73 and all other CES MMA events, visit cesfights.com.