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After he fights a friend at UFC 241, Devonte Smith guarantees bout with rival John Makdessi

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — UFC 241 presents a handful of new experiences for UFC lightweight Devonte Smith.

It’s Smith’s first featured preliminary-card bout on ESPN. It’s the first time he’s had an opponent switch heading into a UFC bout. But most prominently for “King Kage,” it’s the first time he’s had to face off against a friend.

After John Makdessi and Clay Collard withdrew from their scheduled bouts, Smith (10-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) was paired with UFC newcomer Khama Worthy (14-6 MMA, 0-0 UFC). Not only did the two lightweights compete on the same regional circuits, the pair trained together prior to Smith’s move to Factory X in Colorado.

UFC 241 takes place Saturday at Honda Center. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.

“I ‘know him,’ know him,” Smith told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “When I didn’t have a gym to go to, I would drive after work two hours to Pittsburgh to train with him, or just to train in Pittsburgh in general. But (his gym) was one of the main gyms I used to go to.”

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Admittedly, the idea of fighting a friend is a strange concept for Smith. However, he found comfort when he remembered a friendly, old agreement they made back in Pennsylvania. The agreement was they would never fight a teammate – unless there was major money involved.

“For the first hour, it kind of was (weird), but now it’s cool,” Smith said. “When I think about it, we used to make jokes in the local region that we wouldn’t fight friends, unless we were making ‘money-money.’ We’re making ‘money-money’ now. So him signing a contract, I take it with just as much disrespect as him saying he can beat me. I’m going to treat him like everybody else.”

The time they spent hit pads and sparred is worthless to Smith when he analyzes the bout. In his eyes, too much time has passed and too much evolution has occurred. Years later, Smith them both to be different fighters.

“Last time we sparred it was two, two-and-a-half years ago,” Smith said. “I’m not the same person I was before. I’m a different breed. A different person. Like I said, at the end of the day, I’m here to win. That’s all I care about.”

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Unwilling to commit to a specific round or method, Smith sees is a victory Saturday night. According to Smith, a win over Worthy will set him up for a fight with his rival Makdessi (17-6 MMA, 9-6 UFC) in the not-so-distant future.

Things have gotten heated between the two fighters, with Smith and Makdessi trading something less than what you could call pleasantries on social media. Tensions may have hit an all-time high when Makdessi called Smith “Mr. King Monkey” in an Instagram story earlier this month. Unwilling to settle for anything less, Smith guaranteed a bout with Makdessi will be next.

“I know he just don’t want to get that work,” Smith said. “He’s going to get this work. He still owes me three checks. When I see him, I’m going to see him.

“… It will happen. Know it’s just going to happen. He’s not allowed to fight nobody else or he’s blacklisted. It’s just like that.”

Gallery

Devonte Smith def. Dong Hyun Ma at UFC 234: Best photos

Voir l'article complet

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