Issue 192

September 2020

The Pittsburgh lightweight is a harsh critic of his own work, but he keeps delivering impressive victories.

You picked up a very nice win at UFC on ESPN 12 with an impressive submission over Luis Pena. You are your own worst critic and gave yourself the grade of a C. Why the lower grade?

I had some hiccups on the ground. I was hesitant about myself. There was also some really good things I did on the ground. My striking, I overreached a little bit, but for the most part, I stayed composed and I was able to do the things I needed to do.

The finish came via a modified guillotine. You put your own signature on the finish. 

I knew going into the third round, my coach said that he would be desperate to get it to the ground. He didn’t really attack. He just wanted to contain me. I was counter punching for the beginning of the third round then he pressured forward, he is so tall, he tried to get the underhook and I dipped out behind his back. He kept pressing for the takedown that wasn’t there. I guess he didn’t want to separate again. He shot in and I got the cross arm. He kept coming forward. I was like ‘Oh, OK.’ You can hear my coach yell ‘No guillotine!’ I put my arm cross body and he kept pushing forward. As soon as I turned my hips I felt the space open up and I shot my arm through and locked it up. I fell back on purpose. It didn’t matter if I fell back or not, he was going to be stuck there. He was going to be stuck or roll to his back and give up position. One or the other.

You mentioned hearing your coach so clearly during the fight. We could all hear him, too. What was it like to fight in such an intimate environment with so few people in attendance? What was it like to fight in a library setting? 

It was a little different. I think I had a slow start and I came out a little too pumped up trying to get myself going in the second round. It was weird. The whole no crowd thing was strange.

After the fight you said you are the real deal. I might be leaving a word out of your quote but what emotions were running through you in that moment? 

(Laughs) That wasn’t a planned celebration or anything. It just happened. Leading up to that fight all I kept reading was that Khama doesn’t train with the best fighters. Khama doesn’t train at a big gym. That was kind of like a stamp at the end of that fight. I train out of my own gym. Yes, it’s a small gym but I have world-class coaches and world-class training partners. I know what I am capable of. When you get in there it’s not about the training partners. Well, it is to a certain point, but they aren’t going to fight for you. I know my skill set is world-class. I have world-class people around me. I know I can train with amateur fighters and take what they have to offer and put it into the program and still make me better. I was reading up on Jon Jones and he was talking about that. Everyone always says iron sharpens iron. It does to a certain degree but sometimes you learn more from people that aren’t as good as you.

For the longest time the thought in the sport was that you have to get to Jackson’s, you have to get to AKA, you have to get to AMC or another big gym but you are proving that not to be true. How good does it feel to be doing it your way?

I have been to a lot of gyms. When it comes to Pennsylvania, it would be different if we didn’t have the high-level wrestlers around here but we have some of the best wrestlers in the world around here. I’m not worried about seeing something I haven’t seen before. I also think my team and I are some of the best strikers out right now. From the Devonte fight. He trained at a big gym. For this fight, Luis trained at AKA and American Top Team. They don’t get no bigger than that. I think my striking was making him feel super, super uncomfortable. I showed him looks that he has never seen before. Even in the grappling department, I was able to show him something he has never seen before. This is just coming out of a small gym in Pittsburgh. I think that is just proof that you don’t really have to go anywhere and do anything as much as people think you have to

You said in your post-fight interview that Pittsburgh is ready. You are the best proof that the statement is legit. How does it feel to be leading the charge for Pittsburgh, PA in MMA?

Yeah definitely. I have a good number of guys that are ready. I have about four or five other guys, too. We have to keep pushing. I have to keep doing what I’m doing. I have to keep pushing my friends and my teammates and we will get there. 

Speaking of the gym, you guys get in there and really get after it. You have said you are used to getting messed up a bit. Can you tell us about the mindset of the gym? 

That’s every Monday. That’s sparring. We don’t really hurt each other but we don’t let you come in and play. It’s not a game. That has been the mentality of this gym. We are always the kids from the other side of the tracks and that is how I like it. In the fight game you want to be the kid from the other side of the tracks. That means you are going to bring the pain. I tell my students all the time, we are in the pain business. It’s fun. It’s cool but you know people are going to get hurt.

I hate to be the last fight-next fight interview but after your win are there a few guys that you have your sights on?

I think a fight with Yancy Medeiros would be a fun fight. I am willing to do whatever the UFC offers and whatever my manager thinks is a smart move for me. About that Kevin Lee thing. I read an interview that said right on the top in the headline “Khama Worthy Wants Kevin Lee Next”. Yo, I didn’t say that! What in the hell? (Laughs) They asked what my ultimate fight would be and I said my ultimate fight would be Kevin Lee. That would be awesome. I think he is one of the most complete fighters in the division. I mean he’s complete in his jiu-jitsu, striking and wrestling. He has it all and is one of the most complete fighters at 155. I see that article and I was like ‘Who said that?’ I literally never said that. I guess you have to sell your story, though.

I have to ask you before I let you go. You were recently named as a finalist for the World MMA Awards for Upset of the Year. What are your thoughts on that?

Yes, sir! I thought that was last year. That was pretty cool! I heard that and I was like ‘Ahh, word!’ It was super, super cool to be nominated off my first UFC fight. If I was to win it, it would be extremely cool. It would add even more splash to me entering the UFC the way I did. I will just continue working hard and continue to chase my dreams and inspire others if I can. I will make it work.