In Khaos Williams’ mind, he went 3-0 in the octagon in 2020.
After bursting onto the scene with a pair of knockouts – logging just 57 seconds of cage time with wins over Alex Morono and Abdul Razak Alhassan – Williams faced Michel Pereira at UFC Vegas 17. For three rounds, it seemed like it could have gone either way. But in the end, all three judges scored it for Pereira.
Immediately after the fight, Williams believed he had won. After watching it back several times, he feels even more confident.
“At the end of the day, I wouldn’t have put my hands up if I didn’t think I won,” Williams told MMA Fighting. “When it boils down to it, I got a high fight IQ, too. In the fight, there’s always room for improvement, so there’s things I could’ve done better. I’ve watched the fight over and over again. I’m my biggest critic.
“The main reason I felt I won is because I held the middle of the cage. I was bringing the fight to him, and it’s not as easy as it looks being in there. When you have somebody dancing around and staying on the outside, it’s a little harder to dial in and really get off when somebody’s running away from you, when they’re not bringing the fight to you. Now, I became the aggressor, but it was more me counter-punching because I didn’t want to look sloppy when he danced around the cage.
“I won because I’m the one bringing the aggression. I wasn’t as aggressive as I usually am, because I was taking my time and he was moving a lot. It’s a fight and everybody’s got a puncher’s chance in a fight. But I controlled the middle of the cage and I won every exchange. Every time he hit me once, I probably hit him three times. I feel like I won.”
All three judges scored the fight the same: the first round went to Williams, while the second and third went to Pereira. Williams doesn’t have a huge problem with Pereira getting the final round, but the middle portion of the fight is what he’s questioning.
“Even in the second round, he took me down and I popped right back up,” he said. “He didn’t do nothing with it. At the end of the second round, it was like a duck under, Hail Mary submission attempt, which really wasn’t a submission attempt because, watching the fight, it was like three to five seconds on the ground and he was on the side of my neck.
“The third round is the only one I might have given him because he took me down with like 22 seconds left and didn’t do nothing with it. I don’t know how you can win a fight, and respect to him, but I don’t feel like he won that fight. I don’t even think he feels he won that fight. You could tell by his reaction. He didn’t even think he won that fight, man.”
Ahead of the highly anticipated welterweight scrap, Williams joined MMA Fighting’s What the Heck and predicted he would make it a short night if Pereira unleashed his unique style.
While Williams is fine doing interviews before a fight, he thinks he may have given some things away.
“I really wasn’t surprised, but that’s why I say I don’t really like to do too much talking [before the fight],” Williams explained. “I like to let my hands do the talking for themselves. In my interviews, I knew the opposition and I’m pretty sure he respected me regardless. But me saying that, maybe his coach was like, ‘In this fight, maybe don’t do that.’ He respected the power, and he went in there, fought a smart fight.
“I wanted to give the fans more because I know how much everyone anticipated it and I always try to put on a show.”
In the end, Williams feels like the judges let him down. Not only that, but he feels they more at how a round ends than what happens in the rest of it.
“You can be the aggressor and you can win the fight for 4:30 of the round, but to the judges, they’re just looking at the last 30 seconds,” Williams said. “I look at it like this; everybody is entitled to their opinions. If you ask 100 people, 70 percent of the people would say I won. The other 20, 30 percent are on his side because they’re a fan. If you’ve been in there and you’re a fighter, you know I won that fight. You can’t win a fight like that. He did more dancing than damage.”
Although it will go in the record books as a loss, Williams, who ended up No. 4 in MMA Fighting’s Breakout Fighter of the Year list, sees himself as heading into 2021 as an undefeated UFC fighter.
“I definitely [feel like I’m the better man],’ Williams said. “There’s definitely room for improvement. Stop that takedown, boom. I wish I had a little more volume, used my footwork to get in a little bit better but that’s really about it. He didn’t do nothing.
“It’s a minor setback for a major comeback. I stay encouraged, not discouraged. I’m a winner and I hate the feeling of losing. I’m a man, but I hate the losing feeling more than I love the winning feeling. It makes me even hungrier. It’s not that I lost the fight in general, because I really didn’t lose. I’m still confident. I still believe in myself and this God-given talent. I look at it as I lost a chapter in my legacy, in my book.
“This year was supposed to end great the way it started great, but this is just the beginning of my career and I’m getting ready to start racking these wins up.”