Leslie Smith had won only two of five fights in the UFC heading into UFC On Fox 22, which made her bout against Irene Aldana, which she won by unanimous decision, a must win fight.
However, below-.500 record in the UFC aside, Smith believes her pro union stance against the UFC also made the fight against Aldana a must win fight as well.
“When you asked me earlier if I felt like my back was against the wall, you, I thought, were asking because of my last loss against (Cris) ‘Cyborg’ (Justino),” she said to MMA Junkie. “But in my head, that was compounded by my very public stance on fighters associations and the unions.”
Union stance aside, the aforementioned sub-par record thus far in the UFC is another reason that Smith felt the win over Aldana was a crucial one.
“I definitely felt like I needed to get this win in order to keep myself in the game because I felt like I put a target on my back, which isn’t the goal,” said Smith. “For the record, I love being in the UFC. I love everything the UFC has done for the sport. They are the vehicle that’s brought MMA to the masses, and I appreciate that. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the UFC. I want to keep working with them. I just want to make it a fair playing ground, and I think once labor issues are solved, then just like all the other major sports, the numbers are going to go through the roof.”
Smith recently departed the Professional Fighters Association, she has yet to reveal publicly which union or association she may be aligning herself with next.