Just about every fighter who enters professional MMA has one goal in mind, which is to one day become a champion.
Former UFC fighter Leslie Smith is noticing how some of the more recent title shots have gone to some less than deserving folks and she feels that the UFC has been screwing over their fighters by doing things in that matter.
“I think it’s unfortunate because it makes a mockery of merit-based aspects of a fighter working their way up to reach a title shot,” Smith said to MMA Fighting. “I think [Israel Adesanya vs. Yoel Romero is an appealing fight], however do I think that it should take precedence over everybody else that’s worked their way up for a title? No, I don’t. That’s kind of the whole point of, like, winning, is that you’re supposed to be working your way up and getting higher ranked and getting a title shot. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with any promotion putting together an exciting fight, it’s a superfight basically, it’s a superfight with a title on the line, but I think it would be nice if there were two categories: A superfight category and then a merit-based championship category.”
Some of the more controversial title shots in recent memory have included Yoel Romero challenging for the middleweight title at UFC 248 and Jose Aldo challenging for bantamweight gold at UFC 250.
Smith has long been an advocate for unions in MMA and she believes having a union would lead to less controversial title bouts in the future.
“Absolutely,” Smith said. “It’s just another example of the promotion doing what’s best for the promotion and screwing the fighters over in the process. For a fighter, for anybody in any kind of job to have a clear path towards an objective, that’s what anybody wants in any situation. And to have that clear path totally taken away and to have a ranking change and to not get the opportunities that a person thinks that they should have earned, I mean that’s super f*cked. And it affects the money. It’s not just that getting a title shot is cool. There’s a lot of money involved. There’s more sponsorships involved. When you get that shot, you get a lot more eyes on you. Your current sponsorships are gonna go up because your following is gonna go up and you’re going to get opportunities outside of whatever is already happening. Maybe you get to be in some movies, maybe you get to go and make a bunch of other appearances, maybe you can be on a talk show, I don’t know. But the opportunities come when you get more publicity. So for the promotion to deny the opportunity to somebody to get the publicity of a title fight simply because the UFC doesn’t feel like putting it on or because they think that somebody else is going to sell more tickets, I mean, that’s fine but don’t call it a sport, call it entertainment. Because that’s all it is. They might as well have the ref jump in and start choking people out so they can justify or not justify or just keep that f*cking entertainment aspect going. It screws with everybody’s money and it’s unfortunate that fighters have not gotten their act together to realize that it is only gonna ever be in their best interests to stand up for themselves because the UFC will never look out for them.”
The fighter was supposed to compete at Bellator 241 almost two weeks ago, but the show was postponed due to the coronavirus.