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The only thing deadlier than Leslie Smith’s hands is (apparently) her Chapstick

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Leslie Smith interview

Bellator 233: “Salter vs. van Steenis” takes place this weekend (Fri., Nov. 8, 2019) at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., streaming live online via DAZN. Two Middleweights collide in the main event as John Salter (16-4) and Costello van Steenis (12-1) each look to improve their standing behind Rafael Lovato Jr. for a future title shot.

Speaking of future title shots, “The Peacemaker” Leslie Smith (11-7-1) is currently on a three-fight win streak, including her promotional debut at Bellator 224. Coincidentally that fight was in the exact same venue as her next bout this Friday against Arlene Blencowe (12-7). As physically and mentally durable as Smith is, she’ll have to redouble those efforts against “Angerfist” if she wants to move into Featherweight title contention. Blencowe has knockouts in 58 percent (seven of 12) of her wins, including her last two in a row. Either one will get in line behind Cyborg to face Julia Budd, but that’s not such a bad place to be.

Smith recently spoke with MMA Mania about returning to WinStar for another Bellator bout and the curious fact she won her last outing by majority (not unanimous) decision.

“Yeah, I was surprised, but I tend to think that I’m winning fights when I’m in ‘em anyway. When you’re inside of the cage, you can really steal somebody else’s energy. You feel it going down. I feel like in a fight where there’s this thing where you’re kind of a VAMPIRE of someone else’s energy, because there’s a transfer of energy going on. So I know that people outside of the cage can’t feel that, and so my reality is a little bit different from their understanding.”

Although John McCarthy said round two was close during the Sinead Kavanagh fight, the striking dominance and forward aggression throughout defy one judge scoring it 28-28.

“I was really surprised that she was avoiding me so much. I really thought especially after watching her fight against Arlene Blencowe, who I’m about to face, they really stood toe to toe with each other in the middle of the cage. That’s how I was expecting Sinead to come at me, or just to stay there with me, and so when we ended up with her backpedaling and me pushing her to the outside of the cage the whole time, it was not what I expected so I had to adjust pretty quickly.”

All’s well that ends well, though, and happily the win does indeed set her up to face “Angerfist” Blencowe this Friday night, an opportunity Smith is very excited about.

“I’m still waiting for the opponent who is going to stand in the middle and bang with me. I feel like that’s the kind of fight that I really enjoy, that’s the kind of opponent I really enjoy, and I feel like that’s the kind of fight that the fans enjoy the most. I’m hoping that Arlene is going to be the one who stays up there in the middle of the plate.”

Both women are returning to the same venue they fought at last time out, but as the native country fighter Smith may have the “homefield advantage” here.

“Yeah, totally! I’m excited! It’s always nice to have a little bit of familiarity, and I know some things about the area. I’ve got an AirBNB set up which is nice, it’s always nice to have a spot a little bit away from the casino to go to. I know ahead of time not to bring anything into the venue. They wouldn’t even let me bring Chapstick! The commission, they couldn’t let me bring Chapstick into the back.”

It’s hard to imagine that would be considered a performance-enhancing drug (PED), but I’ll let “The Peacemaker” tell the story herself.

“Keri Melendez, my teammate, she has been coaching me and training with me, she just won her fight a month ago in Temecula. She was standing right next to me and the commissioner was like, ‘Uh yeah so you can’t bring that’ and it was more than Chapstick. It was Chapstick and mascara, you know I wanted to look nice after the fight. And I looked at him and I was like, ‘It’s MAKEUP! Like, are you serious?’ I thought he was just kidding! And he was like, ‘Yeah, no. You can’t bring it.’ And so I was like, ‘Huh?’ And Keri looked over at that moment and she was like, ‘Do you want me to take that?’ And I was like, ‘Uh, you can TRY!’ So she went through the exact same process and did the exact same look at him and was like, ‘Um, it’s makeup!’ It was pretty funny but at least now I know!”

It’s crazy that Greg Hardy used an inhaler between rounds, but Smith couldn’t have a makeup kit for after her fight. Nevertheless, when she’s done with Blencowe they may both need it.

“Yeah, I’m really excited about it. She is an accomplished MMA fighter. This is going to be her 20th fight, just like it’s MY 20th fight. We’re actually pretty pretty close in the records, and I think it’s going to be really exciting. People are going to get to watch two seasoned veterans going at it.”

Does Smith believe the winner of this fight is next in line to face Julia Budd vs. Cris Cyborg after their match in January?

“Absolutely! That is definitely what I’m looking at this fight. In my mind this is the fight for No. 1 contender. It has been a long time since I’ve been able to see such a clear path to a title shot, and I’m definitely on that path right now. (I’m) going to seize the opportunity.”

Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of Bellator 233: “Salter vs. van Steenis” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.

To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

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