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Leslie Smith has stomach tumor removed with help from UFC, still in favor of a fighters union

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

On a recent edition of "Inside MMA" on AXS TV, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Bantamweight contender Leslie Smith revealed that she had a benign tumor in her stomach. While doctors told her "it won’t kill her," Smith understandably wanted it removed from her system. The huge problem, though, is she doesn’t have health insurance to take care of the issue.

"It’s a benign tumor," Smith revealed to MMAjunkie. "I’ve asked quite a few doctors about it, and they’ve always told me that it’s not going to kill me or anything, and that’s always nice to hear when you have growths on your body. But, I don’t want this thing on my body anymore. I want to get rid of it, and I’ve wanted to get rid of it for a while."

Sure, UFC offers year-round insurance to all fighters, however, that only covers injuries and issues related to training or actual fights. That said, when the time came for Smith to rely on UFC to take care of a fight-related health issue, the promotion covered it.

"They did a great job taking care of my meniscus surgery when that happened in training," admitted Leslie "They sent me to a great doctor, and that went great. But if I get a fever or an ear infection or something, which doesn’t happen to me often because I live a pretty healthy lifestyle, I don’t have a way to get that taken care of without paying for it myself."

With the rising cost of insurance plans, Smith -- who lost to Cris Cyborg via first-round knockout at UFC 198 last May -- says she can’t afford to pay a monthly premium since her income is not guaranteed on a monthly basis. That said, while she applauds UFC for always taking care of her, she is all-for a fighters union to help fight battles for fighters such as getting full insurance that covers all or most medical expenses outside of the cage.

"I get worried about (potential backlash) every single time that I talk about a fighters association, but I know that it’s the right thing to do," Smith said. "The UFC has actually treated me great and done wonderful things for me. I’m making more money now than I ever have. Everyone there has been really nice to me, even (UFC President) Dana White, in the few interactions we’ve had.

"But that doesn’t change the overall situation, or the fact that things need to change. And I’m willing to be the person who talks about it."

This guy has your back, Leslie.

According to MMA Fighting, once UFC caught wind of Smith's health issue, it flew her into "Sin City" to take care of the problem immediately.

"It's gone," Smith said. "I'm thrilled about it. I'm debating whether or not to show the video. There's a good chance I'm gonna show the video." Still, Smith says she backs a fighter's union 100-percent.

"I'm 100 percent in support of bringing together the organization of fighters," Smith said. "At the end of the day, I am gonna be for whatever is going to help the most fighters get the most benefits." I hope that everybody can be involved in that and we don't have the competition between the groups, because I think they can work together.

"I would hope that my experience, my very physical experience right now serve as an inspiration to the other fighters to be true to their hearts and stand up and say what they know needs to be said in front of the people who need to hear it," Smith said.

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