In just his second UFC outing, Cole Smith will check an item off his bucket list.
Saturday, Smith (6-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), a 30-year-old Canadian bantamweight, takes on former LFA champion Miles Johns (9-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at UFC on ESPN+ 16.
Representing Squamish, British Columbia, a town about an hour north of UFC on ESPN+ 16 host city Vancouver, Smith will have the opportunity to compete in front of his friends, family and local fans. Smith has long been motivated to put Squamish on the map. With a win over Fortis MMA’s Johns, he’ll take one step closer to achieving that goal.
“How sick is that? I get a fight in front of my friends, family, everybody in Vancouver,” Smith told MMA Junkie. “It’s a dream. I just got super lucky. I’m super thankful for it and I’m obviously really stoked. What an opportunity that is, huh? I’m a lucky guy.”
In his short-notice UFC debut, “The Cole Train” faced off with fellow Canadian Mitch Gagnon at UFC on ESPN+ 9 in May. After he got the best of Gagnon throughout the first and second rounds, Smith was dropped in the third, but survived.
Since his debut, Smith has been back in the gym working with the likes of ONE Championship titleholder Bibiano Fernandes and top regional prospect Jamie Siraj. Smith stressed his belief that Western Canadian MMA is clicking as a whole.
“I can definitely speak for the western side of Canada because I can see the work ethic and the talent that’s out here,” Smith said. “We don’t get easy fights out here. There’s no padded records. There’s only so many organizations. So when you’re fighting out here, you’re usually fighting somebody that’s pretty good.”
Smith’s fight night opponent, “Dana White’s Contender Series” signee Johns, called for the fight. Shortly after his win on the show, the Fortis MMA product mentioned Smith as a potential first opponent.
Coincidentally, Smith attended Johns’ contract-earning performance in Las Vegas, and he was impressed with what he saw. Like Johns, Smith sees the bout as favorable.
“I watched him fight on the Contender Series and I thought it was a great matchup for me, as well,” Smith said. “So it should be a good one. … He fought a guy who was 7-1. I think the guy was a 125-pounder. He was a little bit smaller. I thought he was a tough guy. Great fight for me.”
According to Smith, he’ll bring the same elements he always brings to the cage when he competes in his homecoming bout. Eager to fight, Smith might be more thrilled when he thinks about the subsequent parting.
“I try to be exciting,” Smith said. “I try to get the job done. Obviously, last fight I didn’t get it quite done. So I’ll be looking for the finish in this one. Just another good night – and another night of good partying afterwards.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Cole Smith hopes to put Squamish on map after homecoming at UFC on ESPN+ 16