By Nolan King |
June 23, 2020 11:40 am
Khama Worthy remained patient over the past eight months, but it was difficult.
After proving the bookmakers wrong with a first-round knockout of Devonte Smith in his UFC debut in August 2019, Worthy (15-6 MMA, 1-0 UFC) was hoping to fight again in November. When November opportunities passed, Worthy hoped for December – still no offers.
Finally, Worthy was booked to fight Ottman Azaitar. When Azaitar fell off the card due to COVID-19-induced travel restrictions, he was then matched up with Michael Johnson. That fight also never took place. COVID-19 concerns caused the event to be postponed.
“It’s definitely been hard, but there’s not really much you can do,” Worthy told MMA Junkie on Monday. “Everyone was really in the same situation. … I wanted to fight in December. I wanted to fight in November, December, January, and February.”
About two-and-a-half weeks ago, Worthy finally received another bout offer, which he accepted – a fight against Luis Pena at UFC on ESPN 12.
Worthy said he’s watched all of his opponent’s UFC and The Ultimate Fighter bouts, so he’s no stranger to Pena (8-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) and what he brings to the table. Simply put, Worthy is a fan.
“I’ve watched literally all of his fights,” Worthy said. “I actually like him. He’s a cool fighter. I like the way that he fights and stuff. I’ve watched all of his fights in the UFC. I watched him on The Ultimate Fighter and stuff. I was definitely looking forward (to it) when they offered it. I told my manager, I’m like, ‘That’s a tricky one.’ He’s a tall southpaw. That’s not something you’re really used to. I do have a main training partner. He’s a tall southpaw. … That works in my favor, fortunately.”
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Entering Saturday’s fight, Worthy isn’t putting any pressure on himself to perform. Worthy indicated he doesn’t feel like he can force an exciting fight. If he doesn’t overthink it, the excitement should come naturally, given the pairing.
“I’m just letting (expletive) happen,” Worthy said. “… If we go out there, you’re going to get a good fight. Sometimes, with the Israel Adesanya and (Yoel) Romero fight, people put so much (pressure) on fights if they’re not as crazy as they think they (should be). People are like, ‘Oh this (expletive) sucks.’ Like, people booed my last fight. Like, that’s how (expletive) fans are. You know what I mean?”
While excitement isn’t on his mind, Worthy said he’s focusing on doing everything that makes him the best version of himself possible. Win or lose, Worthy said he’ll share a drink with Pena post-fight.
“I know I’m going to try to show the best Khama Worthy shows up,” Worthy said. “I know he’s going to try to make sure the best Luis shows up. We’re going to (expletive) throw down. It’s going to be fun. We’ll sit down and get a drink afterward.”
UFC on ESPN 12 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The card airs on ESPN and streams on ESPN+.
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