As she begins her venture into MMA, Ava Knight has high expectations of herself.
Knight, a former boxing champion who makes her MMA debut at Bellator 228 on Saturday in Inglewood, California, first thought about making the switch to MMA back in 2015. She was presented an opportunity with Invicta FC, but it never went through, she said.
A few years later, she started seriously training in the sport after analyst and Unbreakable Performance Center owner Jay Glazer recommended that Bellator sign her.
“[Glazer] presented an amazing fighter with an amazing will and passion for this, and that’s what [Bellator] wanted,” Knight told Bloody Elbow at Bellator 228 media day on Wednesday. “It’s a great opportunity for me to just showcase that I’m here to fight. It’s not even that I was a boxer and I box well, but I have more fight in me and I can learn everything. … I think I’m going to do quite well.”
For the past year, Knight has been training hard in anticipation for Saturday’s debut.
“It’s been way harder than I thought,” Knight said. “It’s been grueling. Camp’s been hard. I’m sore every day. But it’s been fun learning all these knew things. Wrestling has been very fun for me to learn.”
Knight still plans to return to boxing, and she believes she could go back and forth between the two sports.
“I would love to box still,” she said. “I don’t feel like I need to do eight-week camps in a boxing gym, especially if I had just fought an MMA fight. It’s really just getting in good shape. There’s really not a whole lot I can learn, my style isn’t going to change. I’ll be excited after this fight to go to boxing or to come back to MMA, but keep them both in mind. My goal is to be a champion in both MMA and boxing at the same time.”
When asked what she would rate her ground game on a scale of one to 10, Knight refused to give a number. But she did give some insight into what fans should expect to see when she faces off against Shannon Goughary on the Bellator 228 preliminary card.
“I can’t say I’m gonna be the best ground game anyone has ever seen, but my takedown defense is getting very good, getting back up is good,” Knight said. “Submissions are probably a little bit lighter.”
It would be quite the statement if Knight scored a submission in her debut, but she plans to stick to what she’s best at. That said, she’s ready for anything that comes her way.
“I would love to knock someone out with these little tiny gloves,” Knight said. “I think that’s the goal, to go in with power and speed. We know what happens when people who box do MMA: they get taken down. And that’s what I’ve prepared for.”