Win or lose, there are plenty of fighters who prefer to leave the tape study to their coaches rather than scrutinize their own work.
Khama Worthy—at least when it comes to his most recent fight—isn’t one of them.
The 33-year-old finally got his crack at the big time this past August, stepping in on four-days’ notice for Clay Collard to face a friend in Devonte Smith at UFC 241. The smart money was on continuing his roll against in the UFC after disposing of his first two octagon adversaries inside of a round.
But there would be no first-round finish for Smith this time, or at least, not one in his favor.
Worthy, as high as a +775 underdog on some betting sites, proved to be more than Smith’s match, cracking him with a short counter punch that Smith wouldn’t recover from. Not only did Worthy collect his first UFC checks for showing and winning, he also snagged a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus.
It was an evening Worthy (15-6) isn’t likely to forget anytime soon. Especially since he’s reviewed it over and over and over again.
“I’ve probably watched that fight, like a million times now,” he continued. “There’s a point where I had to stop watching it a lot. I’m just watching it, like, 10 times every day, just watching, watching, watching. I’ve watched it, I’ve stepped through it, took some good things away from it, bad things away from it, (and) I just kept working on it the whole time. Yeah, I’ve watched it a lot.”
You can forgive Worthy for his gushing self-appraisal. It’s taken him the better part of the last decade to make it to the UFC, and even when he got the call, it was mostly because the matchmakers had limited options. Were it not for his brother taking a short-notice fight around the same time as UFC 241 and him getting in shape by helping out in training camp, he probably wouldn’t have come close to making weight for the last-minute opportunity.
Besides, he’s found that looking back isn’t nearly as dangerous as looking ahead. Early in his career, Worthy made the mistake of prematurely eyeing a spot on the UFC roster and it cost him. Now he knows to keep everything perspective.
“That was definitely a big feeling to take on, but like one of my old coaches always told me, ‘You hold on to your wins and your losses for about two weeks, and then you move on,’” Worthy said. “Each fight is different, so you can’t take that last fight. Too many times I’ve seen people going into the UFC, guys going into fights and all they’re thinking about is their next opponent and they never get past that opponent, (and) they get murdered. You have to live in the moment, you can’t look past it.
“It happens all the time, I hate it. One of my losses, I remember I was 7-2 at the time, and all I could think about was getting to the UFC. My manager’s like, ‘We’re so close,’ that’s all I was thinking about. It was dumb, you can’t think about it, you have to think about the task at hand and what’s in front of you, not what’s in the future or whatever.”
Worthy was supposed to have his chance to follow-up on his memorable debut as he was booked to fight Michael Johnson at the original UFC 249. However, following the postponement of that event and all subsequent UFC events until further notice due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, Worthy joins the rest of the roster in waiting to see when he will be able to compete again.
Whoever is next, Worthy’s priority is finding fan-friendly opponents. After defeating Smith to improve his current win streak to six, Worthy said in his post-fight scrum that his priority is entertainment and making money over chasing championships. In the UFC’s crowded lightweight division, he feels that mindset is even more justified.
“The reason I always said that is because Tony Ferguson’s what, 12-0?” Worthy said. “And he’s just now getting his title shot or whatever; I know he had the interim belt before. It’s a clusterf*ck at 155. Realistically, it’s a complete clusterf*ck if you’re just chasing the belt.
“In the UFC now, guys are getting title fights off of losses and stuff, everyone’s getting title fights not because you’re the best fighter or whatever, it’s just whatever is freakin’ most popular and stuff. My head coach says we definitely got time to get there, but my big thing is I just want to make as much as possible and get fun fights. I want to have fun fights.”