TUF Alum Gilbert Smith Continues To Gain Ground In World Of MMA (Exclusive)

TUF Alum Gilbert Smith Continues To Gain Ground In World Of MMA (Exclusive)

Most fighters feel good about themselves if they are riding a three-fight win streak.

Gilbert Smith, though, isn’t too pleased with his current run of victories.

Coming off a second straight decision, Smith (8-2) spoke harshly about himself during a recent interview with FightLine.com.

The former Ultimate Fighter contestant and one-time UFC veteran defeated Jason South in a three-round battle in his debut with Maximum Fighting Championship last month in Canada.

MMA: UFC TUF 17 Finale-McDaniel vs SmithDespite having his hand raised, Smith still thinks more about the missed opportunities to earn his sixth career finish than the win.

“I wasn’t very happy (with my performance),” he said. “At the end of the fight when the ref raised my hand, people thought I looked worried I was going to lose the fight. I knew I had almost every round and was confident, but I rolled my eyes because I got a decision win.

“I was very sad. I almost went into tears. I put my heart into this and trained so hard. I cut down to 170 pounds from 207 for the first time in my life.”

Smith picked up three wins last year after an April loss to Bubba McDaniel at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale. He submitted Jason Lee for his fifth career tap victory before scoring a decision over Donnie Liles.

“I had a lot of times I could have finished (South),” Smith said. “I went for nine different submissions. I had the knockdown.

“I thought I had him knocked out, but the guy was like a zombie. Jason South is no chump. Some people thought he was, but he was 10-1 coming in with all 10 of his wins by finish. He was a gamer, and to me, this was a UFC fight.”

Smith suffered a knee injury just days before the bout in training, but stated there was never a moment he thought about pulling out of the fight.

“I was in wrestling practice and went for a takedown and landed wrong. I had a level-2 tear in my MCL. In my eyes, I was never going to pull out. My coach was concerned and I wasn’t able to wrestle for the rest of the practice.

“There was concern over suffering a complete tear or an ACL injury, which would put me on the shelf for 8-to-12 months. That was a huge fear for me.”

While some injuries happen in the course of a grinding practice session, Smith admitted his did not.

“I didn’t want (MFC) to think I was unreliable by pulling out of my first fight for them,” Smith said. “I happened with me goofing around. Me and my wrestling partner…I told him he couldn’t take me down. He was a state champion in Colorado.

“I said, ‘Listen, I will give you my leg. You won’t be able to finish this takedown.’ Everybody in the room stopped and started looking at us. We were just goofing around, trying to have a bit of fun.

“That would have been a hard story to tell (MFC). They wouldn’t have been very happy.”

Instead, Smith went out and competed – however, that didn’t go as planned either.

Fighting in Canada for the first time, he was unaware of certain rules the commission would enforce. His team wrapped his knee that was injured, but Smith wanted the other one wrapped to keep South from knowing something was wrong.

That when things took an interesting turn.

“I was going to use a sleeve at first, but they said no sleeve, you can only wrap it with tape and gauze,” he said. “So now I have both knees wrapped and am ready to walk to the cage. I start jumping around and (my knees) feel weird. The tape against my leg was taking away my flexibility. It just wasn’t working.

“So right before my name is called, I told my coach to cut it off. Cut the tape off. They start rambling around for scissors and find them. It was the fastest cut job I’ve ever seen.”

The action inside the cage went well for Smith, he said, but the end result was still disappointing.

“I’ve had two decisions in a row, and to me, that feels like a loss,” he said. “I know it isn’t, and everyone around me tried to keep my head up, but I was bugging out.

“I just really wanted to get the finish. I knew Jason wasn’t going to lay down for me, but I had the ability to get the finish and didn’t. I always go into a fight looking to finish and that made me mad.”

While he rehabs on his knee, Smith is looking to take a kickboxing fight. Being signed to the MFC, he isn’t allowed to compete in MMA, but the promotion has already booked him for another bout.

“May 9,” Smith said, of his return to the MFC cage. “They are still working on an opponent.”

Regardless of it being the UFC’s Octagon, the MFC cage or a kickboxing match, it’s all the same to Smith.

“When I step into the ring or cage, it’s all about the fight,” he said. “Different promotions do different things, but none of that should really matter to the fighter.

“What really matters is getting in that gave and getting the win.”

Follow Fightline