Lost in the hoopla of the Fedor Emelianenko – Fabricio Werdum main event this Saturday at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum is the rematch between Scott Smith and Cung Le.
The two had a fight of the year candidate when they last squared off last December. The fight saw Le dominate the first two rounds with his unique stand-up before falling prey to a come-from-behind knockout from Smith in the third round. The loss was Le’s first in his MMA career, and Smith hopes to add a second when the two square off this Saturday.
Raj Giri of FightLine.com caught up with Smith to talk about his fight with Le this Saturday, his favorite opponents, his pick in Saturday’s main event and more.
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?
Scott Smith: The Pete Sell fight was great, and it was also that I got to share that great experience with a friend and we both made some money off of it. The [Robbie] Lawler fights were both fun, but I would say the Benji [Radach] fight was one of my favorites too, because I got to share that with my kids, you know, they got to come into the cage afterward and enjoy the victory with me.
FightLine.com: Speaking of the Radach fight, you’ve had some huge come from behind victories, including the one over Cung Le last December. Which has been your favorite?
Smith: I would say the Cung [Le] fight because there was a little more hype behind it. I had a ton of people there for the fight and it was the main event… I was awesome.
FightLine.com: You are coming off of a huge victory in that fight and you and are now facing him again. What was your reaction when you heard you’d face him again?
Smith: At first I was a little irritated, you know? I didn’t think the rematch made sense right away. But, after thinking about it, there are a lot worse fights for me. These are the kind of fights I ask for… tough fights, I’m not asking for title fights. I want fights that are good for me, and you know Cung… we can fight ten times and we’ll have ten exciting fights. I’m just honored to first of all have been able to fight him once, and it shows that I’m at the level to be able to fight him twice. It’s an honor.
FightLine.com: What surprised you about Cung Le the last time around?
Smith: I can’t say that I was surprised too much, I just wasn’t prepared. His kicks were relentless, even when you block them the way you’re supposed to, they knock you off guard. But nothing surprised me too much, it was what I expected. He fought a great fight.
FightLine.com: What will you be doing differently this time around?
Smith: I’m working with a boxing coach, working more angles and movement, that kind of thing. You know, putting the pressure on him, not going in reverse and just going forward.
FightLine.com: Both of you are stand-up fighters, how would you rate your ground game compared to Cung Le’s?
Smith: He’s got a real good wrestling background. I would like to think that my jiu-jitsu is better than his and he has the edge in wrestling. But I think both of us have an underrated ground game.
FightLine.com: How do you see the fight with Le going?
Smith: I see a knockout.
FightLine.com: With Jake Shields, the Strikeforce middleweight title situation is up in the air. If you are to able beat Le again, do you feel that you should be in the title picture?
Smith: I would understand if they gave me a title fight and I would understand if they didn’t. Like I said, the title fights don’t really worry me that much, I don’t think that much about it. You can give me three more fights and I can give three more wins and it really wouldn’t bother me if I didn’t get a title fight. I just want good, exciting fights and they’re giving them to me.
FightLine.com: Who are some other middleweights you’d like to fight?
Smith: The middleweight division is so stacked, any of them would be tough, exciting fights. There’s nobody in particular that I want to fight. It’s stacked at 185, whoever you pick is gonna be tough.
FightLine.com: You’ve been in Strikeforce for over a year and a half now, how would you describe your time there?
Smith: It’s been awesome, they’ve really taken care of me. They’re growing… especially my weight class, it’s completely stacked. I think they’re doing good things and they’re really taking care of me.
FightLine.com: Also this weekend, Fedor Emelianenko faces Fabricio Werdum, who do you like in that fight?
Smith: I don’t know how you can bet against Fedor. For Werdum to win, he’s going to have to come in great shape. I think he looked a little tired against Bigfoot [Antonio Silva] when he fought him. I think if he comes in good shape – he’s a big, strong tough guy – he can pull off an upset.
FightLine.com: Do you have a message for your all your fans out there?
Smith: Thanks for the support, without them wanting to watch me fight, I wouldn’t be making any money. I appreciate it, and I know a lot of people appreciate the way I fight and that means a lot.
I’d also like to thank my sponsors – Afflication, Rockstar Energy, Full Tilt Poker and EA Sports, they’ve all been taking care of me.