ONE Championship bantamweight Troy Worthen may be a relative newcomer to the promotion but he has wasted no time making his presence felt.

The American stormed onto the scene with an emphatic win on his promotional debut. He scored a TKO demolition of China’s Chen Rui at ONE: ‘Masters of Destiny’ to immediately stamp his mark on the bantamweight division and put his new colleagues on notice,

“It felt great to finally perform on the big stage against an opponent of that calibre and show that I’m one of the best in the world. I’d been looking for that opportunity for a while now and ONE Championship gave me it. So I’m super thankful and excited to keep making statements.”

Next chance

That next chance will come at ONE: ‘Edge of Greatness’ in Singapore tomorrow where ‘Pretty Boy’ will be looking to replicate his feats back in July by beating another Chinese fighter in Chen Lei.

Although well aware he needs to first pay some dues as the new kid on the block, Worthen is adamant that he has what it takes to beat the biggest names in the division,

“I think Chen Lei is very similar to Chen Rui, a good record and some decent wins in ONE Championship. It should move me up, but I think that if I can get a bit higher ranked opponent next then I can really show the fans that I deserve a title shot soon. But I have no delusion of grandeur, I know I have to work my way up.”

Most fighters tread carefully when it comes to the prospect of bouts beyond the one immediately in front of them, but Worthen is happy to admit he already has one eye cautiously trained at the top of the division.

And not simply potential opponents in that vicinity, he wants to go up against the very top. Namely, veteran champion Bibiano Fernandes.

Title aspirations

Of course, Worthen realises he needs to tick a few boxes before he reaches that rarified air. However, when that time comes, and he’s sure it will, the American believes he is the kind of puzzle that the Brazilian won’t be able to solve,

“I’m a nightmare for Bibiano,” he says.

“We all know he’s one of the best in the world on the ground. But with my level of wrestling, how’s he going to get there? I think my striking’s a little more clean. I’m working with some of the best guys in the world every single day.”

This work has included sparring sessions with one of the best Muay Thai fighters on the ONE Championship roster,

“Nong-O [Gaiyanghadao] is one of my sparring partners and he’s the Muay Thai world champion. I dont think hes going to throw anything I don’t see coming on the feet and he’s going to have to work to get to the ground.”

Worthen also thinks he has what it takes to hang with the champion on the ground,

“I’m also a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jutsu and I come from very good pedigree. So, I’m not too concerned there either.”

Oozing confidence

You can almost sense the confidence oozing out Worthen as he considers the prospect of that title shot, a special brand of confidence he says is born from the hours of blood, sweat, and tears he puts in on a daily basis at his new home gym at Singapore’s Evolve MMA.

“(My confidence) comes from my preparation. I don’t ever let someone work harder than me in any room I’m in. It makes me very confident in my performances. I feel like every fight is a fight I can dominate.”

However there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to give Worthen this sense of confidence,

“I’m always the hardest worker in the room and I’ve prepared with some of the best names in the sport back home in Florida so I knew what my level was, I was just looking for that chance to prove it.”

Struggling to find the kind of consistent quality fights he needed in his native US, Worthen – a collegiate wrestling star – rolled the dice on a bid to head to Asia and clinch a spot on the star-studded Evolve roster,

“It was hard for me to get opportunities in the US. One year of my professional career I had 16 people pull out fights. So it was hard for me to get my name out there, hard for me to get to the bigger organisations.”

Risk rewarded

Worthen saw an opportunity to realize his MMA dreams in Asia and didn’t hesitate to pursue it,

“I saw that Evolve had posted tryout and it was a dream come true. So I knew I had to take the risk and fly over here and it all worked out, cos now I live here and I’m fighting in ONE Championship.”

The risk clearly paid off. Victory in his new adopted hometown on Friday would extend his flawless pro record to 6-0, though he’ll first need to work his way past a dangerous Lei.

Predictably, Worthen has little doubt he’ll be able to do exactly that,

“I focus on myself a lot and I think, as long as I don’t do anything stupid, then I’ll win this fight pretty convincingly. I do have to be aware of his pressure. He has quite awkward strikes, they come from weird angles without much setup. So long as I stay tight with my defense I should be fine.”