If Given an Opportunity, Leslie Smith Can Thrive in Bellator
It is funny when one person’s mistake can lead to a reward by another. That is the situation Bellator faces here, as they have an opportunity to grab the bull by the horns. Looking to find any way to outcompete the UFC, they have signed both fresh talent and those who have left Dana White’s team, begrudgingly or not.
If the company truly wants to make a statement, they should sign Leslie Smith and push her to the moon.
Why Leslie Smith? Let us retrace our steps here to the very beginning:
It wasn’t that long ago when the planned Leslie Smith (10-7-1) v. Aspen Ladd (6-0) match at UFC Atlantic City was canceled. In part, this was due to Ladd not making weight and Smith refusing to fight. While Smith was offered an additional $5,000 to go along with Ladd’s 20% purse deduction, she refused, which is her right considering the bout that would have taken place would be outside of her contracted weight class of bantamweight. The UFC decided to let her go after that, stemming from the report that the whole ordeal was considered the last fight of her contract. Here is an in-depth statement from Smith herself:
Now, Smith is threatening legal action against the UFC. We can talk about how she is in the right, how fighters who don’t make weight have a significant advantage this year alone and how support for her Project Spearhead campaign would have been useful during the situation. Instead, she should not only go through with her actions, but also plan a trip to Bellator, where she can make a true impact.
The UFC right now is stacked with talent. Unfortunately, top brass doesn’t exactly know what to do with some of them. While new, Bellator has been known to give shining talent a platform to showcase their skills, even while on a smaller network. Smith is a name that, while not as sexy as Conor McGregor’s or Amanda Nunes’, can still sell. She has won three of her last four fights and has defeated the likes of Raquel Pennington and Jessica Eye. Her five wins by knockout are something a promotion like Bellator can utilize. Their young male version of a knockout artist is Aaron Pico, and Smith can match it on the other side.
At age 35, Smith can become a true trailblazer in a growing industry. While she probably wouldn’t make the move to flyweight, Smith can start a bantamweight division in Bellator, bringing in fighters from all over to help it grow. It would be the next phase in Bellator’s evolution. Who knows, fighters in this promotion may support her attempts at a union in Project Spearhead.
Nothing is certain, but Leslie Smith is a fighter any promotion would want. She plays by the rules and is a fighter’s fighter, which is rare in sports today. The reward is far greater than the risk. It is up to Bellator to decide what they see if/when they take a look at her.