While some fighters might be overwhelmed when they finally make their way to the UFC, it is not so much the case for lightweight Devonte Smith.
For Smith, reaching the UFC in 2018 was an inevitability since he started his career in 2015.
“I got the first win to solidify the (UFC) contract against (Joseph Lowry), and the second win (over Julian Erosa) was even more clarification that I belong,” Smith told MMAWeekly.com. “It’s a great feeling.
“All my life I knew I was going to be here, so it’s just another day. All I’ve got to do is do what I do and keep moving forward.”
For Smith the key to his success has been a constantly evolving game that he feels grows and changes every time out.
“I’m not a one-dimensional fighter,” said Smith. “Shout-out to Factory X, who has been an extremely big part of my growth.
“The confidence level is way up there. With my stand-up, my ground game, my wrestling, my jitz, my fighter IQ, my knowledge – everything has increased 10, 20, or 100-fold. Every day I’m learning something new.”
At UFC 234 on Saturday in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Smith (9-1) will look to add to his promotional win total when he takes on Dong Hyun Ma (16-8-3) in a main card 155-pound bout.
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“Fight – that’s what I’ve got to do to get the win,” Smith said. “I don’t really think too deep about that. I think people think too deep about game plans and ‘I’ve got to do this’ or ‘I’ve got to do that,’ and that leads to a whole other conversation, but just to simplify it, all you’ve got to do is fight.
“There’s nothing different. I’m going into the cage to hurt a man until the referee stops it. I’m going into the cage to get this win so I can support my family and better my future.”
Now that he’s in the UFC, Smith wants to make a steady climb up the ranks both in a way that is not only quick, but controlled, so he is ready for each step he makes up.
“Truthfully I’m not in a rush, but I’m not being too patient,” said Smith. “I’m just focused on me, so I don’t really care who is in the Top 10 or Top 20 or all that other stuff.
“Me and my team, my coaching staff, my management, we make smart moves. I really just improve myself and focus on me. I’m here to fight. I’m here to win – I will win – that’s my mindset.”