Following a highly successful 2018 that saw him win all four of his fights, including two under UFC contract, lightweight Devonte Smith was looking to carry over his momentum into his first bout of 2019.
Facing Dong Hyun Ma at UFC 234 this past February, Smith was able to pick up his sixth straight win when he finished his opponent off just under four minutes into the first round of their fight.
“I won,” Smith told MMAWeekly.com. “I got a bonus. I was in a place I hadn’t been before, Melbourne, Australia, I got to meet Anderson Silva and Israel Adesanya, and I got a lot of different experience, so I had fun.
“I’d love to go back to Australia, but it’s got to be on first class because that 14, 15, hour flight is no joke, (but adjusting to the time difference) was no difficulty at all. To me it was more of a mindset: Stay up as long as I could, and when I knew how much longer we had to get there I went to sleep at a good time.”
As Smith points out, the fight played out pretty much how he thought it would.
“In truth I feel like I did good,” said Smith. “I went out and fought. I did what I trained to do: stayed patient and put the pressure on him. I watched for certain things I guess. I just knew it would come. I just stayed patient and ready for anything.”
At UFC 241 on Saturday in Anaheim, Calif., Smith (10-1) looks to pick up his seventh win in a row when he takes on last-minute replacement Khama Worthy (14-6) in a preliminary lightweight bout.
“To get the win I just have to be me and do the job right,” Smith said before learning of the switch of opponent to Worthy, whom he has trained with in the past. “I’ve been out here in Colorado the last few months and doing nothing but training. It’s just me becoming a better fighter and a better me.”
In a year since earning his way into the UFC with a win at Dana White’s Contender Series, Smith feels like he’s come a long way and cannot wait to see where he’s headed in the year to come.
“This year has been great,’ said Smith. “I’m very blessed. I’m extremely grateful to be where I am right now. I’ve grown so many ways, and I haven’t even reached my peak yet. I have so much room to grow. I’m super excited for my later year.”