Khalil Rountree on UFC 226 KO Win: “I Needed This For Myself”

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Khalil Rountree
Image Credit: Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Khalil Rountree believes a huge weight has been lifted off his shoulders.

Rountree was a slight underdog going into his bout with Gokhan Saki at UFC 226. While it was considered to be a pick ’em fight, few could’ve expected the result. Rountree knocked out the former Glory kickboxing light heavyweight champion in the first round. Rountree didn’t need takedowns to do it, as he ended Saki’s night on the feet.

It’s a huge win for Rountree, as many were already writing off his future with the UFC. He started off his UFC run at 0-2 with losses to Andrew Sanchez and Tyson Pedro. Rountree rebounded nicely with victories over Daniel Jolly and Paul Craig. He ran into Michał Oleksiejczuk and initially lost via unanimous decision. The result was changed to a No Contest when Oleksiejczuk was popped by USADA for banned substances.

Following his UFC 226 win, Rountree spoke with the media on the significance of the knockout finish (via MMAJunkie.com):

“I needed this for myself. So what it felt was just like I knocked a big demon off my shoulder, like, OK, what’s next? I’ve dealt with a lot, so for it to finally be over, I’m not like, ‘Hurray!’ But I’m like, (sigh). Now I can continue. I got a win, got some extra money, can take care of my family the way that I want to, and move forward.”

Rountree now has five knockout wins in his professional mixed martial arts career. His record stands at 7-2, 1 NC. His knockout victory over Saki earned him his first “Performance of the Night” bonus.

Who do you think Khalil Rountree should be matched up against next?