Every budding MMA star sets his or her sights on the same goal: The UFC.
In the world of MMA, the UFC is the NFL, MLB or the NHL — the place where these fighters make the most money while building a legacy in front of the most people while doing so.
And several of Pittsburgh's own have scaled that mountain. Adam Milstead, a retired 8-3 heavyweight/light heavyweight from Beaver Falls fought for the UFC from 2016 - 2018. Chris Dempsey, a standout grappling-based fighter out of Ambridge who spends time at New Kensington's Mat Factory, fought for the UFC from 2014 to 2016. Even former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt called Pittsburgh home, training out of The Academy — then Fight Club Pittsburgh — before moving to California's Team Alpha Male.
And currently, there's Khama Worthy, a 15-6 pro who recently knocked out Devonte Smith in one round on short notice at UFC 241 in August. Worthy developed his skills on the regional level for years — taking his first pro fight, a submission loss, in 2012 — before getting his opportunity on the big stage. When it came, he seized it in the most emphatic way possible.
Now, he's passing on a lesson: Take full advantage of every opportunity. This Saturday, Nov. 16, 247 Fighting Championships returns to Canonsburg's Printscape Arena for Brawl in the Burgh 2, and Worthy had a message for all the fighters on the card:
"I have been putting in my work here in Pittsburgh for years," Worthy said of his climb. "I never felt like I got the recognition that I deserved but now it's time to put Pittsburgh's MMA scene on the map. 247 was a big part of giving me a platform to get to the UFC and all the fighters fighting this Saturday have that same opportunity."
With two title fights on tap on a stacked card featuring the region's best fighters, there's no doubt these fighters competing Saturday will have the same chance Worthy did. This is their tryout of sorts. And 247 FC is committed to making sure it all goes off without a hitch.
"They deserve this," 247 FC owner Ryan Middleton said. "They deserve the spotlight, they deserve the attention. This promotion is built around the thought that, 'Let's show as many people as humanly possible how great these athletes and gyms and coaches in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania really are.' And even more importantly, let's show people how great they can become."
Can that greatness lead them all the way to the top — to the UFC? It's happened before. It'll happen again.
Get your tickets right here to watch the future of MMA now, right in your backyard.