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The events surrounding the UFC paying Leslie Smith not to fight this past weekend have been well documented; it is hardly a leap in logic to surmise that their actions were motivated by a desire to get rid of Leslie due to her efforts to organize Project Spearhead, a prospective fighters’ union.
Her interview with MMAJunkie.com revealed why it is so difficult and counter-intuitive for fighters to stand up to their promoter outside the Octagon. At the end of the day, they just want to be in the cage, fighting. She said that literally fighting for free- the situation the UFC put her in by offering her the same amount of money to NOT fight- was extremely tempting. In fact, she would have been risking half her paycheck, over $30,000, by taking the bout with Aspen Ladd. Despite how little sense it makes logically to take the fight in that scenario, Smith says she regrets it. She badly wanted to be in the cage throwing hands with Ladd that night.
“I kept looking at the fighters and being like, ‘Wow, they’re in great shape and they’re intense and they’re tough,’” Smith said. “Then I’d think, ‘Hey, I’m in great shape and I’m intense and I’m tough. I’m a UFC fighter just like them.’ That’s when I’d catch myself and realize, I’m not. I’m not a UFC fighter anymore.”
“We are a very results-based society, but I feel confident right now that I’ve made the best decision,” Smith said. “Yeah, my pride hurts. A part of me is probably going to regret not taking that fight for the rest of my life. I definitely regret it right now, and I definitely regretted it when I was watching the fights on Saturday night.
“But I still think standing up for myself was the right thing to do. And the way I am, when I see the right thing to do, I can’t really stop myself.”
Project Spearhead is going to go after the UFC legally for their actions, which will be an interesting fight to watch unfold. The goal of Project Spearhead is to get 30% of the UFC roster to sign the anonymous cards, so they can approach the NLRB, the National Labor Relations Board, to get a review of the UFC fighters employment status and determine if they have been wrongly classified as independent contractors, and should in fact be employees, with all the legal protections and benefits that status provides (including, most importantly, the ability to unionize). However, it is possible the UFC’s punitive actions in firing Leslie could trigger an NLRB review without needing 30% of the fighters on board.
The UFC, through its actions against our President, @LeslieSmith_GF, has forced this movement to a stage where legal filings are necessary to protect our rights. Please consider donating to the cause no matter the size of any donation. https://t.co/zNiOiwEyB6.— Project Spearhead (@ProjSpearhead) April 24, 2018
Leslie Smith’s pride means setting up a Go Fund Me wasn’t easy for her.
“The ultimate goal is to get representation for the fighters,” Smith said. “It’s not a situation where I’m trying to get this amount of money or whatever. That’s not the goal. The goal is representation.”
Between not being able to fight because I tried to negotiate and putting out a go fund me my pride has taken a beating in the past week but I really appreciate all the kind words, thank you to everyone who has reached out, your words matter a lot.— Leslie Smith (@LeslieSmith_GF) April 24, 2018
She hopes her sacrifice will make it easier for other fighters to get on board with the effort.
“They don’t have to stick their necks out and do it the way I did,” Smith said. “No one has to do it the way I did.”
Nick Newell may be coming to the UFC after all, a decision I applaud. The man has done enough to earn a shot at fighting the best.
UFC president Dana White told me he met with Nick Newell and his agent Ali Abdelaziz yesterday in Las Vegas. "Obviously his dream is to fight in the UFC. I told him I would give him an answer by tomorrow." Newell is still in Vegas today, flies home tomorrow morning.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) April 24, 2018
Send thoughts and prayers with Ray Borg for his child, who is set to undergo brain surgery tomorrow.
Al Iaquinta is much funnier than Tony Ferguson online. The UFC did Ferguson dirty by taking away his interim title, but Al has a point.
Bro you need to get off Twitter and shut it.. you blew it, you shoulda fought anyway. You lost your shot for good! this real estate agent would whoop you get dropped every fight— Al Iaquinta (@ALIAQUINTA) April 24, 2018
the ufc stripped you cause your a weirdo and Whittaker isn’t— Al Iaquinta (@ALIAQUINTA) April 24, 2018
I belonged more than you, you tripped on a rope— Al Iaquinta (@ALIAQUINTA) April 24, 2018
The poster for Stephen Thompson vs. Darren Till is very minimalist.
UFC Liverpool Official Poster. pic.twitter.com/aZVr3nj5l8— Bruno Massami (@BrMassami) April 24, 2018
TJ Dillashaw will once again need all the boxing skill he can muster to win the rematch with Cody Garbrandt
Remember when Fedor was the greatest?
The next slide is CM Punk, who is not nearly as cool as Peter.
Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier agreeing on something for once was pretty funny. Poor Alexander Gustafsson, getting teamed up on by the guys he almost beat.
Ido Portal, master of human movement
Fighter going hard on the Heavybag. Power punches galore. • • Follow us @boxingroyalty DM for video credit. • • #boxing #boxeo #boxen #ko #knockout #fitness #tyson #beast #motivation #ali #rate #gymlife #workout #training #hardwork #skills #exercise #mma #ufc #mayweather #mcgregor #sparring #speed #miketyson #conormcgregor #floydmayweather #muhammadali
Heel hooks. You don’t have to love them, but they are a fact of grappling.
Fighter’s wives probably don’t get enough credit in this sport for putting up with a lot. Robert Whittaker’s wife seems like she’s more than a match for him.
Oh no. Don’t do this to dear sweet Joanna.
Michael Chandler throwing shade Khabib Nurmagomedov’s way
If the only weapon he has is wrestling...how does he beat a man who can’t be taken down? - #mma #wrestling #wrestler #wrestle #bjj #jiujitsu #judo #grappling #takedown #freestylewrestling #greco #grecoroman #ironmichael #takedowndefense #d1wrestle #usawrestling #fitness #fitnessmotivation #workout #workoutmotivation
Urijah Faber, The California Zombie
This security officer has been to grappling class once or twice
I believe in body shots.
Anvar Boynazarov with body shot KO— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) April 21, 2018
ppl are dying today at EM Legends pic.twitter.com/Y8DJuNCvQn
wrap it instead?— Rory MacDonald (@rory_macdonald) April 25, 2018
That’s a lot of slams
Podcasts and Video
Fight Night 128 Highlights! Follow MMA Mania on Youtube
The Co-Main Event podcast
On this CME, is it really “Khabib time” for Kevin Lee? And are we ready to get non-ironically excited for Fedor vs Frank Mir? (Answer: actually yeah.) https://t.co/RGizcCcjF8— Ben Fowlkes (@benfowlkesMMA) April 23, 2018
What it looks like on a comet
This is on my bucket list