After leaving the UFC, Knight signed with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships (BKFC) and was immediately matched up with the Octagon veteran. At the time, neither he or Lobov had competed in bare-knuckle boxing, so it was a learning experience for both.
Looking back, Knight realizes he completely abandoned his strategy after trading a few punches with Lobov in the first round, and he approached every subsequent exchange like it was a street fight.
“My game plan went out the window,” Knight said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I trained a lot better than I fought. I didn’t plan on throwing looping ass punches and trying to knock him out with every shot, but that’s what happened.
“We went to war. We both got cut up bad. We both got dropped a few times. More or less, we underestimated each other.”
In the aftermath of that fight, Knight was supposed to face fellow UFC veteran Leonard Garcia over the summer, but he suffered a rib injury that prevented him from competing.
Meanwhile, Lobov went onto engage in another brawl with former boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi in one of the most heated showdowns of 2019.
Knight admits he rooted for Lobov to get the job done that night, but what actually resulted was less than impressive.
“I thought it was pretty garbage,” Knight said candidly. “They were both too worried about what the other one might do to engage. (It) made it a slow, boring fight. I think Paulie did pretty good hitting his angles and trying to evade and stay safe, but he never did anything with it. Artem, he should have went at him harder. He should have fought a lot harder than what he did.
“When I watched the fight, I was there that night, and when they walked out you could see Paulie was scared to death. He wanted no part of it. He was worried about getting knocked out or getting cut. Artem didn’t go and take it away from him, which is what he should have done. It never should have gone to a decision.”
As it turned out, though, there was a benefit to the outcome. Lobov’s win prompted the BKFC to put him back into the ring with Knight in hopes they could duplicate their three-round slugfest.
Knight relishes that opportunity, because as much as fans may have loved his war with Lobov, he knows it was far from his best performance.
This time, the Mississippi native hopes to put Lobov away rather than slugging it out in a bloody war.
“Mentally, I’m always there,” Knight said. “I’m always ready to go. If I have to go through [a war] again, that’s perfectly fine. Physically, I’m twice as prepared. I’ve got 10 times more cardio than the first time. My skills are a whole lot sharper than it was the first time.
“I think really my biggest thing, the last fight I didn’t fight with skill. I just fought with heart and toughness and the thought that I would eventually knock him out. This fight, I’m going to show some skill. I’m going to display what I should have done the first time.”
If he’s successful, Knight said he’ll happily give Lobov a third fight in a rubber match to settle their score once and for all. But no matter the result, his immediate future is in bare-knuckle.
As much as Knight earned his reputation through fighting in MMA, he’s just not in the right head space to return to that sport. Bare-knuckle boxing is allowing him to make a living and loving his job at the same time.
“Of course, I’d like to do some more MMA fights in the future,” he said. “I just don’t really have the hunger for it right now. Bare-knuckle, I’m super excited about. I’ve got the hunger, I’ve got the fire.
“That’s what drives me through my training camps. If you don’t have that hunger, that fire, you’re not going to put in the work that you should.”