Braden Smith has the guidance of former UFC champion Rashad Evans to lean on as he makes his professional MMA return at XFC Young Guns 1.
Smith (10-4) returns from an extended absence against Franklin Patterson (6-5) in Saturday's main event. Smith took almost two years off following his loss to Contender Series alum Matt Dixon to travel the world and hone his skills. That journey took Smith to American Top Team, where the welterweight served as a training partner for Greg Hardy and subsequently met Evans.
"I got to train with Tyrone Spong. I got to meet Rashad Evans and Rashad Evans pretty much took me under his wing a little bit," Smith told Fightful. "He showed me all these other things. I got to spar with him and I got to train with Eryk Anders and Krzysztof Jotko."
"We did some sparring. He worked with me for four rounds where we did wrestling drills. He told me, 'Go out there and perform.' I feel like I'm at the level now where it's going to be a little while before anyone pushes me. I'm confident in my skills and I do really well with that. So I just need to perform and be myself."
XFC Young Guns 1 takes place at the Oklahoma City Convention Center in Shawnee, Oklahoma on Saturday, March 27.