Regardless of whether or not she fought Aspen Ladd at UFC Fight Night 128 last Saturday night in Atlantic City, New Jersey, longtime women’s bantamweight veteran and former ear model Leslie Smith was going to be a free agent on Sunday morning.
Win, lose, or draw.
Unfortunately for fight fans, Ladd was unable to make the contracted limit, weighing in at 137.8 pounds. While it’s (regrettably) not uncommon for a fighter to miss weight, Smith was miffed by her opponent’s unwillingness to use the additional two-hour window allotted for second attempts.
“It’s significant that Aspen was already rehydrating when I weighed in,” Smith told MMAmania.com. “It’s pretty disrespectful to not try for the full two-hour window to get as close as possible and then claim to have done everything that she could.”
After Smith took the scale, Ladd told her social media followers that she “tried to make it right” by offering “The Peacemaker” a $5,000 bonus, complementing the standard 20-percent penalty that comes with missing weight.
“She never offered me an extra $5k,” Smith said. “Her coach and manager both texted to say ‘sorry’ about not making weight on Saturday morning, but never said anything about $5k. I’m trying not to be angry at her, she’s the small picture of me, the UFC is the big picture.”
A picture Smith is no longer a part of after UFC bought out her contract.
The promotion has long opposed any sort of fighter’s union, despite the support of several key athletes (like this guy) and a handful of attempts to get something organized. Smith, not coincidentally, is the driving force behind Project Spearhead and hopes to succeed where PFA and MMAAA failed.
“I didn’t bail on the fight or refuse to scrap based on her weight,” Smith said. “I used her failure to fulfill the contract to negotiate for a future fight in the UFC and instead of extending my contract, the UFC chose to pay me NOT to fight. Framing it as a simple issue over less than two pounds takes away from the significance of the UFC’s behavior and the revelation that anytime a fighter misses weight, their opponent is now in a place of leverage because they are out of contract.”
A fact not lost on UFC when it decided to buy out her contract and send Smith on her way. And it even awarded her a win bonus because they are so kind and generous, irrespective of that whole killing and eating thing.
“I wish she had made weight so we could have fought, but she opened the door to negotiating with the UFC,” Smith said. “I tried my last card to extend my UFC career and it didn’t work. No matter what happened in the fight, I would have been a free agent by Sunday, so I had to shoot my shot.”
Her shot may have missed, but depending on how things play out with Project Spearhead, that may not be such a bad thing.