Scott Smith is gearing up to face former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le next Saturday at Strikeforce: Evolution on Dec. 19. Le, who was recently stripped of the Strikeforce middleweight championship after not having defended the title since he won it over a year and a half ago, is looking to remain undefeated while Smith is looking to get back to his winning ways after suffering a recent defeat to Nick Diaz in June.
Smith, a Muay Thai specialist and one of the most dangerous strikers in the business, recently spoke with Bart Mitchell of FightLine.com about his upcoming bout with Le, his favorite bouts, Dan Henderson’s signing and more.
FightLine.com: People still talk about the spectacular ending of your fight with Pete Sell at The Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale. Do you still get asked about it a lot?
Scott Smith: Yeah, yeah quite a bit. That was a great fight, obviously, a great finish and people still talk about it.
FightLine.com: You’ve had some great wars in your career. What has been your personal favorite fight, and who has been your favorite opponent?
Smith: Obviously the Pete Sell fight was one of my favorite wars. A lot of people just talk about the ending of that fight, they kind of forget that it was a great, great fight. We were just beating the hell out of each other and we got “fight of the night,” so it was really, really cool. Pete Sell is one of my friends, he and I both were able to benefit from that so that’s definitely one of them. The Robbie Lawler first fight was a war. I tell my mom that if I come home with stitches then it’s a good fight, I’m happy, that means I was standing there banging with somebody. I’m kind of going the opposite way now, I’m starting to wish against that because I’ve been in so many wars now. Robbie Lawler fight was great, we beat each other up and then the Benji Radach fight is probably my new favorite fight probably because he beat me up so bad and I was able to come back and overcome him beating me up so bad in the end. And Benji Radach is a great guy too. Some good fights with good people.
FightLine.com: You are gearing up for your fourth fight with Strikeforce. You’ve also fought in the WEC, Elite XC and UFC. How would you compare your time in Strikeforce compared to other organizations?
Smith: It’s easily my best experience. I had great experiences in all of the organizations though. UFC treated me great, Elite XC treated me great, they were there for me, and Strikeforce- they are over the top in treating me good. I really don’t have much bad to say about any of the organizations I fought for, but Strikeforce is really out there for the fighters. I’ve sat down with Scott Coker a couple of times and he wants to succeed and he wants the fighters to succeed. Other organizations may have been themselves first and the fighters second or third whereas I truly feel that Strikeforce is looking out for the fighters first.
FightLine.com: Your opponent Cung Le hasn’t fought in 18 months, as he vacated the middleweight title to go to Hollywood. Do you feel that his being away for that long gives you a decided advantage?
Smith: I think so, I think ring rust plays a part. But he’s one of those guys- even filming movies he’s gotta stay in good shape and train to do his movies so I know he is going to be ready to go. I gotta have a little mental edge on the ring rust there, he’s not quite sure if he is ready to go or not.
FightLine.com: You’ve won most of your fights by KO, how would you rate your ground game compared to Cung Le’s?
Smith: I’d say collegiate wresting wise we’re even, jiu-jitsu wise I have the edge. I don’t know that many people think of me as a fighter until I started getting these big knockouts. A lot of my knockouts are TKO’s- I take people down and ground and pound them. I think I probably won 6 of my first 7 fights by TKO which is considered a knockout but I was using my wresting and ground and pound. I’ve definitely been back to the basics and working on my wrestling and jiu-jitsu more. He’s probably more of a natural athlete then I am, so he can scramble a little bit better, but I think I got a technical edge on the ground.
FightLine.com: Do you consider yourself more well-rounded as a mixed martial artist than Le?
Smith: Yeah, I would say I’m more well rounded and there’s parts of his game where he’s better and there’s parts of my game where I’m better, but I think if you lay out five categories then I’m going to be more well rounded in all of them.
FightLine.com: How do you see the fight with Le going?
Smith: I see Cung keeping his distance. He’s a more technical striker and he’ll try and pick me apart. I’ve got to turn it into a street fight and get a hold of him. It’s a great match up.
FightLine.com: Dan Henderson recently signed with Strikeforce. What are your thoughts on him signing, and is he someone you’d like to face?
Smith: He’s not somebody that I’m out there looking to face. I’m just ready to face whoever Strikeforce puts me ahead of. I think it’s a great thing for Strikeforce. Dan Henderson is definitely one of the top fighters in the world and now that he signed with Strikeforce the UFC is downplaying how good he is. They’re saying Dan Henderson is over the hill and a has been but he’s definitely still a force. Jake Shields is a bad match up for a lot of people. You know, me being a striker, people say he’s a bad match up for me, I’m a bad match up for him. I think Dan Henderson is one of those guys that I think he destroys Jake Shields, and that’s one of the few bad match ups out there for Jake Shields right now. I think he (Dan Henderson) is going to make it interesting.
FightLine.com: If you were to beat Le on Dec. 19th, do you feel that you should get a title shot against current middleweight champion Jake Shields?
Smith: I don’t know, if I had to wait in line I would understand. If they asked me to take the title fight I would understand as well. Dan Henderson, he’s one of those guys- he’s that good that he deserves a title shot right away. There’s a lot of guys out there so there’s gotta be a method to it all. I just gotta wait and see, there’s a couple big 185 fights on that card. Matt Lindland’s fighting on the card, Robbie Lawler so just gotta see how it all folds out and what makes sense.
FightLine.com: Who are some other middleweights you would like to face?
Smith: They’ve signed a couple good middleweights, I’m pulling blanks on the names. I just like to get interesting fights, the ones that are going to be fought. There’s nobody in particular that I can’t wait to fight and there’s nobody in particular that I don’t want to fight. I like the fights that make sense, I don’t want to face the 5-0 or 6-0 or 5-1 wrestler fresh into MMA that nobody knows. It does nothing if I beat him, it does everything if I lose to him. I want to face the big names like Cung Le, the big names like Robbie Lawler that I have the potential of beating and will do something for me when I win the fight.
FightLine.com: Do you have a message for your all your fans out there?
Smith: I really appreciate the support. I go to a lot of MMA events, Strikeforce, UFC, and the fans are just so great and I really do appreciate the support they give me. I don’t necessarily go out there and say ‘I’m the best fighter, I’m going to be the next world champ.’ I just want people to want to watch me fight, and it seems right now the fans want to watch me fight and that’s what keeps me going and that’s what I really do appreciate.