Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Don’t hold your breath if you’re waiting for Khama Worthy to change up how he approaches fight night.
Worthy (16-6) is currently in the best stretch of his professional career, having won seven consecutive fights including three straight by knockout or submission. His last two wins have come in spectacular UFC performances. He made his UFC debut in August of last year on less than one week’s notice and knocked out Devonte Smith inside of a round. Then he followed that up with a third-round submission of Luis Pena.
“The Deathstar” meets Ottman Azaitar this Saturday at UFC Vegas 10 and he plans to bring the same aggressive approach to this matchup with a fellow fight finisher. For Worthy, it’s all about creating a lasting legacy for himself with the knowledge that his actual competitive years have a strict shelf life.
“For me, my thing is like if you want to live forever like musical artists can, you have to be that athlete that sticks out,” Worthy said on the What the Heck show.” You have to be able to put yourself into those situations that make you stick out like that. Unfortunately for fighting it means that you have to be willing to get hurt. That’s just the way it is. You have to be willing to take a risk at losing.
“I say this all the time, I think a lot of fighters in the UFC fight and try not to lose. They’re not actually trying to win, they’re just trying to make sure they don’t lose. Unfortunately a big part of our careers are based off of our losses and stuff. At least for most people, I don’t give a f**k about my losses. I’m not a DJ so I don’t give a f**k about records. If all you’re holding onto is your record and sh*t, that’s cool. Someone like Khabib, his record’s super cool, or Jon Jones, they’ve been fighting top guys and stuff. If you haven’t been fighting serious competition like that then your record doesn’t really mean anything.”
While Worthy has his fair share of finishes in his career, all of his losses have also come inside the distance. He sees this as a byproduct of his mentality and points out that some of the most memorable athletes of all-time are known more for how they fought rather than whether or not they won.
“When I’m gone, I’m done fighting, you’re gonna get a highlight reel,” Worthy said. “And what’s gonna be on my highlight reel? Unfortunately for athletes, once you hit a certain age you no longer exist, right?
“Unless you gave people something to remember, like you have to give them something that they’ll never forget like Ali and Frazier. It doesn’t matter who won those fights because everyone remembers those freakin’ fights were freakin’ insane. Everyone remembers that stuff.”
Saturday actually marks the third date on which Worthy was expecting to fight Azaitar. The two were booked for a card in April before the UFC’s schedule was thrown into disarray by the coronavirus outbreak, and later both fighters announced their matchup had been rescheduled for Sept. 5 before it was pushed back a week. According to Worthy, it was due to an issue on Azaitar’s side, though Worthy didn’t specify exactly what caused the delay.
Regardless, he believes that he and Azaitar will produce fireworks.
“That’s probably one of the most exciting fights of the year, easily,” Worthy said. “I think just the way that Ottman fights—If he fights the way he’s supposed to fight, because Violent Bob Ross said he’s gonna meet me in the center and sh*t, and then he got a taste and was like, ‘Yeah, f**k all that I’ll just grapple and sh*t.’
“Everyone says meet in the f**king center, I gotta give it up to my boy Devonte because he’s the only motherf**ker to say let’s meet in the center and we did.”
Much like the Pena matchup, Worthy is ready for anything, including the possibility that Azaitar decides to avoid the grappling and turn their fight into a wrestling match. In the event that Worthy doesn’t get the brawl he’s looking for, he’ll be happy to make a show of it in another way.
“He gets finished,” Worthy predicted. “That’s the cool part of MMA, there’s a million ways to get finished. Unless he runs from me, which I’ve had people do before in fights, literally just disengage from action. Then I’ll just sit there, maybe make some goofy faces, do some ignorant sh*t, flick off his corner, I don’t know, whatever to try and piss him off. If he doesn’t engage, I’ll just win on decision or something, make it embarrassing as possible.
“If he comes to fight, then I’m gonna finish him. That’s what I do.”