Khaos Williams on chaotic beginnings versus bringing the chaos today.
He’s called “The Ox Fighter” for a reason, multiple reasons, in fact.
Kalinn “Khaos” Williams’ dominance in the UFC’s Octagon is a projection not only of his strength but also of what’s to come. His life outside the ring is much the same, as he continues to persevere and overcome obstacles.
The Detroit, Michigan resident had quite a come-up from the lifetime of scuffles inherent in the rough environment in which he was raised.
“It’s the concept, to come straight from the mud and make a beautiful situation out of it,” Williams told FanSided.
It was the chaos and ruckus he caused as a young teenager roaming the streets of rough neighborhoods that inspired his new name “Khaos.”
Born March 30, 1994, in South Bend, Indiana, Williams’ hapless childhood evolved from losing his mom to prison at only four years old to bouncing around between family members and attending numerous schools, eventually getting adopted by his aunt.
Living with his dad in New Burn, North Carolina between the ages of 12 and 17, Williams was afforded the freedom to roam because he maintained good grades in school. His 3.8 GPA and involvement in track, basketball, and football served as his ticket to independence; however, it came at a price.
“With that freedom, I found time to be in the streets,” he said. “I was a follower back then. I was in the streets at 14 years old hanging around 18-year-olds, selling drugs. I made my first 10 grand at 16 years old, selling drugs.”
During his senior year of high school, Williams caught a charge that sent him to jail. Once out, he tried to assemble his life the best he could in the absence of a solid role model or mentor.
He moved to Jackson, Michigan at 18 years old, to live with his mom.
“In Jackson, I went back to my old ways,” Williams said.
Because of his impressive GPA, he was recommended to take AP courses at Jackson High School however, he said, “I just wanted to take the easy way out and do regular classes.”
He quickly learned the work was too easy for him.
“Once again, I found I had a lot of time on my hands, so I would be out making money, selling drugs,” he said.
He found himself behind bars once again, but this time he had an agenda.
“I was caught up for the second time during my senior year and I honestly didn’t think I was going to graduate. It opened my eyes to how valuable my time is,” Williams said, reflecting on the wasted time and a revoked scholarship to play basketball at East Carolina University.
While in jail the second time, he was accepted into a program that helped incarcerated students graduate as they served out their sentences.
“I was the first person to graduate from the program; I was the first one to put my mind to it and do it even though [the program] had been around for a while and others had attempted it,” he said. “That’s just me—anytime I put my mind to something, I do it.”
Looking at the big picture of his life, he added, “When I was in the streets, I put my mind to it. I started from nothing. When I was in jail trying to get my diploma, I did that. Even with my fighting career, I started off fighting, and pretty much nobody believed in me. I told them what I was going to do and I’m doing it.”
Khaos Williams turned his life around after his second jail term
After his second stint in jail, Williams tried to go the route he thought was right. As a young man sent out into the world to navigate life without a support system to speak of.
“There was nobody to let me know about finances, credit, investments, or even about student loans.”
Following the advice of one of his teachers in jail, he pulled out a student loan to attend Jackson Community College.
“I was trying to do the right thing, but it really wasn’t beneficial for me,” he said, noting that he left college to focus on advancing his fighting career. “What really got me into fighting was a street fight in North Carolina.”
From age 14, Williams dabbled in boxing and slap-boxing, laying the foundations of stamina and a fighter mentality. But, he got his first real taste of TKO/KO during a 2012 street fight against another teenager. The fight, which someone recorded—a video that would eventually go semi-viral, would not be his last, albeit he would soon learn he could fight to earn a respectable living.
“A friend told me after he watched the video, he said Williams won by first-round KO, ‘You got it, you got potential, you can make a lot of money doing that,’” said Williams.
After joining a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym in Jackson, Michigan, he earned his three-stripe blue belt.
His love for both boxing and mixed martial arts, which took full flight after his first bout in the ring, nurtured his well-rounded skill set. His first fight took place just three months into his training.
“At first I was pretty green. MMA was new to me,” he said. “I was just excited that I could fight and not get in trouble for it.”
His vicious striking ability and knock-out power earned him impressive stats during his early amateur MMA and pro boxing years. He fought for various Michigan regional promotions, including King of the Cage events and won the Total Warrior Combatsuper lightweight title against 36-fight veteran Tony Harvey.
Williams made a wild UFC debut, defeating opponent Alex Morono at UFC 247 on February 8, 2020. His first-round KO won him the Performance of the Night bonus and was dubbed “one of the most vicious f***ing knockouts that you will ever see in your entire f***ing life” by UFC president Dana White.
In November 2020, Williams won by first-round KO, again, only 30-seconds into the first round against Abdul Razak Alhassan—a stunner that would help him gain both traction and followers.
“It’s not personal, it’s just punishment,” said Williams—the quote has become his motto. “I was a diamond in the rough just waiting to be buffed off and shown to the world.”
UFC Fight Night appearances since his notorious first two fights are no less exciting. UFC analyst Michael Bisping said, “Khaos by name, chaos by nature,” during a high-octane fight in which Williams showcased his extreme striking power and efficiency in counter striking.
Khaos Willams credits his success to God
With 13 wins overshadowing two losses, seven of which were (T)KO and one submission, Williams attributes his success to God.
“It’s God-given talent. I truly believe that with God, all things are possible and I’m here to prove that,” said Williams.
His mental resilience is just as strong—born out of the necessity to withstand a childhood riddled with misfortunes, fighting, and the absence of a role model.
“I rose through the amateur rankings, overcame some obstacles,” he said, explaining the serious leg injury which led to infection after his last amateur fight. “I almost lost my leg; I was in the hospital for a month.”
Again, he realized the value of his time as he sat out for a year to recover.
“During that time, I was shot, but I bounced back through the grace of God.”
Williams says even though he’s only two years into the UFC, “I’m already making noise and I’m just getting started.”
Continuing to chase his dreams and carve out his space in the world, Williams hopes to continue serving as the inspiration and role model he never had.
“People can relate to me and my story and that’s why I’m the people’s champ,” he said.
People rally behind his relatable story and down-to-earth personality. In turn, he rallies behind the people, dropping by his old stomping grounds at Jackson High School to “give the kids a little inspiration.”
Instead of seeing himself as a victim and seeking sympathy, or using his disadvantages as a crutch, Williams utilizes his story for the greater good.
“You never know who might need to hear your story or who might need to hear what you’ve been through,” he said.
While his fans might believe his life is easy based on what they see now, “they don’t see the empty bank accounts, the betrayals, the lonely nights and mornings. They don’t see the hard work, dedication, studying, and all the doubt. They don’t see the process, what it took to get there.”
He’s not only in love with the process, but he also loves being able to inspire people and teach them that the journey is beautiful too. Williams’ trainer in Jackson, Michigan, Montu Aha said, “Nutrition, routine, mindset, training, keeping on course, it’s all an essential part of the process.”
The personal trainer/owner at MFitElite Training remembers a time when he would pick Williams up from his home, which “had no heat and it was the dead of winter,” for a 4 a.m. workout. “He’s come a long way,” he said, adding that “Khaos has a mentality like none other. He’s strong physically, mentally, and spiritually. I’ve never seen anyone as determined as he is.”
Today, Williams focuses on surrounding himself with positivity and inspirational, supportive people. Yet, he appreciates his past for what it is. “The kid I was then made me the man I am today. I believe everybody goes through s**t for a reason, even if we can’t see what that reason is right then.”
Williams is slated for a May 7, 2022 fight with Randy “Rude Boy” Brown at UFC 274.