Luis Pena looks at his upcoming fight with Khama Worthy in a similar light as the rest of the MMA community.
The lightweight bout takes place this Saturday at UFC on ESPN 12, which emanates from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas.
“Violent Bob Ross” has won three of his last four, most recently picking up a dominant unanimous decision win over Steve Garcia at UFC Norfolk in February.
Worthy garnered a lot of hype after a first-round knockout win over highly touted prospect Devonte Smith at UFC 241 this past August in, arguably, the biggest upset of 2019. Admittedly, when Worthy’s name was presented, Pena wasn’t all that surprised—it just wasn’t the type of matchup he expected at this point in his career.
“Khama’s definitely someone that’s been on my radar since he knocked out Devonte Smith,” Pena told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck. “Devonte was on my radar, so when he took out Devonte, I looked at it as, ‘All right, there’s another guy in the mix that could be there.’
“So it wasn’t something I was super surprised with. But I told my managers I was looking for someone—I’m not gonna say bigger—but more tenured in the UFC. This is my seventh walk to the octagon, this will only be his second. Not taking anything away from him like that, but I was hoping for someone around my same experience level in the UFC.”
Pena has always had a calming presence about him, but since being able to meet his biological father and brother over the last couple of years, he feels at ease in his fighting career.
The soon-to-be 27-year-old wasn’t overly thrilled with his most recent performance over Garcia, despite being so dominant from beginning to end. With this matchup on Saturday with a wily veteran, Pena feels this can be the type of matchup that fans can completely buy into.
“I really like the matchup and I really like how our skill sets align,” Pena said. “I think this is a good matchup, not just for me, but the fans. We can go out there and put on the show everyone expects from us.”
When, also, appearing on What the Heck, Worthy was asked to give his thoughts on the matchmaking by the promotion and compared it to the UFC on ESPN 10 fight between Andre Fili and Charles Jourdain.
After watching that exciting, back-and-forth showdown at 145 pounds, two guys that are about to fight each other—over 1,000 miles apart—began to share the same thoughts.
“It’s funny he brought that fight up because watching it, I got the same feeling,” Pena said. “I have a feeling we’re gonna go in there and let it all hang out. It’s gonna be very technical, very violent, and there’s probably not gonna be a lot of ground work. We’re gonna meet in the middle and see who drops first, I think.”
Heading into his second fight as a member of American Top Team, Pena is elated to show how much he has learned sharing the mats with the likes of Mike Brown, Jorge Masvidal and Dustin Poirier, the latter of which will headline Saturday’s card against Dan Hooker in a pivotal 155-pound matchup.
With the wisdom and knowledge he has picked up over the last six-plus months, Pena is ready to paint his next portrait.
“I wanna say third-round TKO, but I can see us going to a decision,” Pena stated when asked how he sees the fight playing out. “Khama’s very tough and it’s gonna be hard to get him out of there. He’s fighting for a lot just as much as I am.”