Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight scrappers Jason Knight and Gabriel Benitez collided last night (Dec. 9, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 123 inside the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.
Jason Knight — who lives up to both of his unofficial monikers, “Mississippi Mean” and “Hick Diaz” — rattled off four-straight wins to earn a big step up in competition, which admittedly ended disastrously. This was a bounce back fight for Knight, who was eager to return to top 15 competition with a victory.
Benitez came into this bout as a talented fighter yet to fill out the holes in his game, which led to some inconsistent results. Nevertheless, the potential was clearly there, and “Moggly” aimed to live up to it against the highest ranked foe of his career.
Knight threw hands at the opening clap, while Benitez responded with a chopping left low kick. A hard right hand from Knight sent the Mexican athlete to his knees, but he popped right back up and defended a takedown.
Somewhere in the scramble, Knight bit his opponent's finger, resulting in a brief break in the action and Knight losing a point. Why would he do such a stupid thing while winning the fight? I don't know, but the action restarted, and Knight returned to walking his foe down. However, "Moggly" found his range, landing some counter left hands and strong kicks. His jab was rather effective as well, helping him keep the distance and circle away from takedown attempts.
It was an extremely odd round, as Knight dominated the first half, bit his opponent, and then was picked apart in the final two minutes.
Benitez kept moving well into the second round. Angling off after his punches, the Mexican athlete gave his foe few openings for his lopping counter shots, and he slammed in the occasional hard kick too.
By the midway point in the round, Benitez was really chewing his opponent up. His movement was on point, and Benitez also did a great job of mixing his targets up. The jab swelled Knight's eye, both kicks and punches targeted the mid-section, and Benitez's inside low kick was brutal whenever it landed.
It was far and away the best Benitez has looked inside the Octagon, leaving Knight with five minutes remaining to score a finish.
Benitez continued to play matador into the third round. His left hand just could not miss, thrown with great effectiveness as a lead and counter. Additionally, Benitez angled off and set up the left high kick a few times. It very nearly connected multiple times, as Knight was turning his back and stumbling around like he was drunk. "The Kid" attempted a few takedowns, but nothing he did came particularly close to landing.
It was so, so strange. Benitez was not worried about the oddness though, as he was awarded the wide decision win.
As mentioned, this was an outstanding showing from Gabriel Benitez. Knight may have looked off, but Benitez utterly picked his foe apart in the most complete performance of his career. His use of angles and mix of targets was perfection, as he battered Knight into a shell of his former self.
Previously, Benitez has been a talented fighter who hasn't put it all together. Last night, he officially did just that, and if he continues to perform at that level, he's definitely a potential member of the top 15.
Hell, he just knocked off No. 15.
As for Knight, the best word here really is bizarre for so many reasons. As an analyst, I'm fairly confounded. Why did he bite Benitez while still in control of the fight? Biting is an act of desperation, a low act reserved for men getting their ass kicked. If he went for the finger bite in the third round, it would make sense.
Right after stunning Benitez and in on a deep shot though? It doesn't make sense.
More than that single terrible decision, Knight just looked off. I don't know if he was sick, his weight cut went poorly, or if the Lamas knockout was still affecting him, but Knight was far sloppier than normal. His reactions were just slow. Part of that can be explained by all the damage Benitez did to the legs and body, but it was still a strange showing from the former ranked athlete, who will nosedive down the divisional ladder.
Last night, Gabriel Benitez overcame early fouls to beat his opponent up. Who should "Moggly" face next?
For complete UFC Fight Night 123 “Swanson vs. Ortega” results and live play-by-play, click HERE!