clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Midnight Mania: The UFC paid Leslie Smith an extra $31,000 to go away

The UFC has a reputation for being stingy lately, but they opened up their wallets to get rid of Project Spearhead founder Leslie Smith.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Smith vs Lemos Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Fighters missing weight is barely news these days ... it’s more shocking when an entire card makes it through the process without anyone’s organs shutting down. The UFC doing sketchy things in regards to fighter pay after a fight falls out is also not all that surprising since the Fertittas left town. Like ... are you really shocked that flyweight Ulka Sasaki is only being offered half his show money after his opponent Magomed Bibulatov pulled out last minute due to a back injury?

But what is rather unique is a fighter missing weight and the UFC deciding to pay her opponent their full show and win money to not fight. That’s what happened after Aspen Ladd came in 1.8 pounds over for her fight with fighter and Project Spearhead leader Leslie Smith, who happened to be on the last fight of her contract.

“I told the UFC that I would be willing to take the fight as long as they extended my contract,” Smith told MMA Fighting. “They did not want to extend my contract. Instead, they said they would pay me my win bonus in addition to my show money and that would fulfill the fight on my contract and they would not be extending it.”

“It feels like the UFC is paying me off to go away,” she concluded.

That’s the feeling a lot of the MMA Twittersphere has on the subject too, although there’s a fairly even split between those siding with Smith and the UFC. Smith has spent 2018 trying to rally the UFC roster around Project Spearhead and collect enough representation cards to kick off unionization. Unlike other flash in the pan attempts, Smith’s tenacity has kept Project Spearhead in the headlines.

Project Spearhead’s first goal after signing up enough UFC fighters: to clarify whether they deserve employee rights rather than the paltry protections afforded to them as private contractors. It’s an important question that would have a lot of different effects and funny enough if UFC fighters were employees it would probably make the UFC’s release of Smith illegal.

But as it stands, the UFC still holds all the cards and why would they keep around a troublesome athlete that’s always asking for better fighter treatment and pointing out all their questionable behavior? As eyebrow raising as it is to pay Leslie Smith an extra $31,000 to just make her go away, the UFC has never had many issues in the past playing hardball and getting rid of dissidents (if getting paid $62,000 to not fight can be considered hardball).

Past ruthless behavior from the organization has led to an ongoing billion dollar anti-trust lawsuit that alleges the UFC has used it’s monopsony powers to depress wages and distort the market. We have to wonder whether pushing the head of Project Spearhead out of the UFC will stifle the unionization effort or bolster it.


Black Beast already gearing up to win the meme war against Francis Ngannou. Nothing personnel, kid.

A post shared by Derrick Lewis (@thebeastufc) on


Lots of people rallying for Leslie Smith, which shouldn’t be all that surprising.

Paige VanZant’s book tour continues with a USO visit.

Happy 4:20!

Schaub embracing it.

Friday Night Fights

Meanwhile, at Combate Estrellas ... round one vs. round two.


Stick and return fire.

Watch out for that head kick!

How do fighters not s**t their pants the moment they get kicked like this?

That’s it from me, hope y’all enjoyed 420! Stay woke, Maniacs!

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania