“For sure there’s a bit of jitters, but I felt like the only ones that were bringing the jitters were most of the media guys,” he laughs. “They’re saying, ‘Why aren’t you nervous,’ ‘You should be nervous,’ ‘Everyone’s nervous in your situation,’ and I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m all good.’ I have the mentality that you only live once, so why not do anything that scares you and do it all. What’s the worst that’s gonna happen? The world’s gonna keep going and keep spinning tomorrow. Just go out there and fight and have fun and that’s the whole point.”
Smith had plenty of fun in defeating Gagnon to move to 7-0 as a pro, but more than just the victory, it was the reality that he was finally where he wanted to be. So what’s there to be nervous about then?
“One thing that I really embraced was the fact that I’m in the UFC now,” Smith said. “I’ve made it, I’m fighting with the best fighters in the world. Locally, I felt there was a little bit more pressure just because you can’t lose to the locals and you can’t lose a round to the locals. You have to dominate the locals if you want to get to the UFC. You need to be the best local. So all of my fights here, it was like, ‘Okay man, you really need to beat these guys. It can’t be close, it can’t have a couple close rounds; you need to wipe these guys out.’ So I felt there was a lot more pressure on me to perform. And now that I’m in the show, the fighters are so good, it is what it is, so I figured that helped me a little bit.”
With all that out of the way, Smith can now focus on the present and future, and the future gets brighter if he takes out fellow unbeaten Johns in the present. But regardless of the result, the stock of both bantamweights should rise simply because they took a fight that you would rarely see take place in a boxing ring. In other words, you don’t see two unbeaten prospects meeting this early on in their careers because there are too many records built to 20-0, 30-0, 40-0 in the sweet science.
“That would never happen in MMA,” said Smith of built-up records. “Every fight is tough, there’s way too many ways to lose, and it’s too hard of a sport. I appreciate the challenge in every fight, and here in Vancouver and in BC, we don’t get easy fights. Every fight is tough and they’re few and far between, so you can’t pad your record out here. It’s a little bit harder to do that.”