Ricardo Lamas kept his place in the upper crust of the featherweight division, taking out Jason Knight at UFC 214 on Saturday in Anaheim, Calif.
Lamas rocketed to a UFC title shot, but lost to Jose Aldo at UFC 169 in 2014. He has since struggled to gain any momentum for a return trip to the championship rounds, though he has sustained a position in the Top 5 of the featherweight division.
He strung together the second of back-to-back victories for the first time in two years by taking out highly regarded up-and-comer Knight in the first round of their fight on the Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones 2 undercard.
Lamas started strong out of the gate, immediately landing with his patented left jab, right low kick combination. A short time later, he shot for the takedown, but nearly got caught in a guillotine on the way down.
Lamas established side control, but Knight scrambled out of the position. Lamas stood and dropped some heavy punches before dropping back down into Knight’s guard. The youngster kept attacking, though, putting Lamas in mission control and heel kicking him to the back.
Lamas eventually slipped out and stood, but had to fend off several upkicks from Knight before eventually dropping back into guard, where he had to defend Knight’s leg lock attempts.
Knight was unable to fully secure the leg and they returned to their feet, which quickly became the beginning of the end of the fight.
Lamas attacked with punches to the body, which opened up the head, and he took full advantage. He opened up a flurry of punch combinations that repeatedly hurt Knight, slipping in a hard right hand every four or five shots, but Knight wouldn’t go down.
Though he was staggered, fumbling around on wobbly legs, Knight occasionally answered with a hard shot of his own, but didn’t have his faculties about him. Lamas kept pressing forward, unloading until Knight finally went to the canvas.
Lamas followed him down and fired punches until the referee stepped in to save Knight from his own heart.
It was an incredible display of moxie by Knight, but he isn’t quite yet at the level of Lamas, who has much more experience at the top level of the game.
“The kid’s got some brass balls on him. He’s tough man. I’m the No. 3 guy. He’s been on my radar for a while. I’ve been watching him for a while, so I know he’s gonna bounce back,” Lamas said after the fight.
“I know he’s got heart, so I wasn’t surprised. I knew I was gonna have to keep coming after him. The kid’s a tough fighter.”