Ryan Espey's journey back to the top will now have a few more steps than the arm-wrestler initially imagined.

The left-arm phenom competed in Dallas last week in what was supposed to be his final match before going up against the top-ranked arm-wrestler in his class. Unfortunately for Espey, some unforeseen circumstances altered his preparation.

"I actually came down with COVID exactly two weeks before the event. I was pretty sick for about a week and only started testing negative for COVID about three days before I was going to leave," Espey explains. "The travel tests are a little more stringent, so I had my doubts that I would even test negative to be able to go south, but I did. I let that be the determining factor on whether or not I still went."

Espey went down to Dallas to take on Corey West and was defeated by the rising star. The Portager says there were many points during the two weeks leading up to the fight that he was considering backing out.

"I would say, right up until the point when my flight left, I was thinking about it. The four or five days before I actually got on the plane to go, I was debating on pulling out of the match completely, but I started to get a little bit better, so I thought 'Maybe I'll be okay,'" says Espey. "When you're competing against a guy like that, you have to be at your absolute best and I learned that the hard way."

The veteran arm-wrestler notes this was going to be a very tough match even if he was at 100 per cent and had trained like normal. So, in hindsight, he says it may have been best to postpone the contest. Espey says he's not going to be dwelling on the past and plans to bring his A-game when he gets back to competing once again.

"Leading up to this, the next match was supposed to be for the number one spot in North America. As expected, the guy I competed against will be taking my place in that match. So, that is what it is, and I'm just going to focus on the national championships, which are coming up on July long weekend in Winnipeg, and I'll go from there."

Espey is adamant that he won't be down for long.