Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News
When episode No. 9 of “The Ultimate Fighter 25” aired in June, we saw an emotional Gilbert Smith leaving his gloves in the center of the octagon to signal his retirement from MMA.
Less than three months later, we get to see him in action again.
Tonight’s LFA 22 meeting with Benjamin Smith (15-4), however, doesn’t mean that Gilbert (12-6) has had a change of heart about leaving the sport. Rather, after a somewhat anticlimactic goodbye, the former RFA champ wanted to give his career a proper ending in a familiar stage and in front of his home Colorado fans.
“On the show, when I retired, I felt like that wasn’t the best atmosphere for me to retire,” Smith told AXS TV Fights’ Phoenix Carnevale. “I felt like I took away from the experience from my training partners, my coaches, my family, my friends. And even the fans. Because, when I retired, it didn’t show until like three, four months later.
“I didn’t have the people who brought me up around me. So this fight is dedicated to them. This is why I’m doing this fight, it’s for everybody who supported me throughout the years.”
Gilbert Smith and Benjamin Smith meet in tonight’s LFA 22 welterweight co-headliner. The main event features a bout for the vacant 185-pound belt, between Ian Heinisch and Markus Perez Echeimberg. LFA 22’s main card airs on AXS TV from 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colo.
Back in the “TUF” gym, after a unanimous-decision loss to Dhiego Lima, Smith talked about how the passion for MMA had subsided after a six-year pro run that included stints with Titan FC, RFA, Bellator and two stays in “TUF” house; before the “Redemption” edition, which featured “TUF” alumni, he was a member of “Team Jones” on Season 17.
After years of putting himself through the physical and mental exhaustion that come with the tough day-to-day of prizefighting, 36-year-old Smith is ready to live a normal life next to his family, kids and friends. As he looks back on the road this far, the outlook seems to be a bittersweet one.
“Fighting is something that I enjoyed doing, but then I didn’t,” Smith said. “I love to compete. I’m a very competitive person. But hurting people or being hurt, it’s never been something I was thrilled about.
“It’s funny because I am a very emotional person. Call me a sensitive thug. I do think I probably will be emotional. I think it’s going to be a very joyous occasion. So if I cry, it’s not sad tears. It’s tears of happiness. Tears of feeling like I’ve done what I wanted to do. I lived my life. I lived my dream. I’m very thankful for it.”
In order to retire on a victorious note, all that Gilbert needs to do is do something he’s already done before: beating Benjamin Smith. And while both have changed in the two years since an original RFA 26 encounter that gave Gilbert the 170-pound title, the retiring vet feels equipped to come out on top again.
But, even if he doesn’t, it won’t be the end of the world.
“At the end of the day, I don’t even have a gameplan,” Smith said. “I’m just going to go out there and fight him, and we’ll see what happens. I mean, I want to win, and I train to win.
“But I don’t really care about the results. I just want to enjoy the moment. Go out there and just have fun. What happens, happens. I’m proud of my career. I have no shame, and I’m just going to go out there and do the best I can do, and just show love to everybody. ”
To hear more from Smith, check out the video above.
And for more on LFA 22, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.
LFA 22 is live on AXS TV tonight at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT). Make sure to tweet along using #LFA22. AXS TV airs new, live fights almost every Friday night in 2017. Find AXS TV on your TV right here: www.axs.tv/fights.
Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News
Source: MMA Junkie