Lightweight prospect Devonte Smith will look to make it 2-0 in the UFC when he meets “The Maestro” Dong Hyun Ma (formerly Dong Hyun Kim) in a lightweight match-up at UFC 234.
Smith earned his UFC contract with a win over Joseph Lowry on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series last August. “King Cage” followed it up with a 46-second knockout win over Julian Erosa in his UFC debut back in November.
Ma, who is 3-2 in the UFC, has earned a reputation as an action-fighter in the 155-lb. division. His UFC 199 war against Polo Reyes on the early prelims is regarded as one of the most underrated fights of 2016. Ma has since rattled off three straight wins over Brendan O’Reilly, Takanori Gomi and Damien Brown.
“If he wants to brawl, I guess he’ll be brawling by himself”
Though Smith and Ma are both exciting fighters, Smith said he won’t be looking for a Fight of the Night bonus–Performance of the Night would be more up his alley.
“I can go in and win in 46 seconds. I’m not a big fan of wars,” Smith told MMASucka. “I’m built for them but it’s not something I’m a big fan of. The war fighting mentality, that’s only good for when you actually need it. If that’s the main thing you want to do, that’s how you gas yourself out. That’s how you get caught with stupid stuff. I like to fight my pace and take it wherever the fight goes and be smart about the whole situation. If he wants to brawl, I guess he’ll be brawling by himself.”
Smith is excited for a win over Ma to not only draw more fan attention to him, but also propelling him up the rankings and getting him one win closer to his ultimate goal: bringing the UFC title back to Cleveland.
A win over Ma would be Smith’s sixth straight, and he’d be 2-for-2 in the UFC. In a division as deep as lightweight, Smith was non-committal about whether he’d like a top-15 fight next, or if he’d like to take a slower route and develop more. He said he’d leave that decision up to his coaches.
“I’m not in a rush but I’m also not too patient,” Smith said. “If the opportunity arises that I can get a top-15 contender opponent and my coaches believe it’s a really good match-up, I’m in.
“[The ranking] is a number. It’s nothing but a number is all it is. If it gets me to my goal a lot faster, then I would do that. But like I always say, smart moves, all the way around. The only thing I really care about and focus on is my name having a C right next to it, which means champion.”
Smith’s First Foreign Experience
UFC 234 is slated to go down in Melbourne, Australia. For Smith, it will mark his first time ever leaving the United States.
“I’m about to be over water for 15 hours straight to go fight in a different part of the world,” he said. “It’s a weird thought. It’s not like I’m going down the street. I’m going to another part of the world.”
A win over Ma would be the best part of Smith’s trip to Australia. But after the fight, he plans to take a nice vacation and enjoy his first time on foreign soil.
“I just want to take it all in and experience the culture, be a tourist. Enjoy the view. Just sit back and think to myself, ‘I did that. I’m doing this.’”
UFC 234 takes place on Saturday, February 9. Robert Whittaker will defend his middleweight title against Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of the pay-per-view. The co-main will see exciting strikers in middleweight super-prospect Israel Adesanya taking on the legend Anderson Silva in hopes he can continue his meteoric rise to the top.
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