College student, Scrap Pack and Yang Gang member Smith ready for fight

November 7, 2019

As Leslie Smith prepares for what may be a number one contender fight against Arlene Blencowe this Friday in Thackerville, Oklahoma, she has learned to manage her time training and going to school.  Smith is working on her Bachelor of Science in Labor and Employment through online courses via Rutgers University.  She has 60 more credits left to finish her degree and then plans on heading east to New Jersey to study for her Master’s degree in the subject at Rutgers.

Courtesy Bellator MMA

Its well-documented Smith’s interest in labor, employment and the law.  She founded Project Spearhead as a means to organize fighters.  She also filed a grievance against her previous contracted employer, the UFC.  Although her case looked promising, the NLRB reversed course and denied her claims that the UFC was treating its contracted fighters as employees.

“I actually am really happy by the fact that I’m doing it,” Smith said of going back to school.  “It makes me a lot more proud of how I spend my time.”  Smith has been taking online courses, studying, writing papers and managing her training schedule.  “I feel really happy that I’m training my body and my mind.”  She emphasized that school and MMA have helped her prioritize her schedule and manage her time more effectively.

Smith joined Bellator this past summer and debuted with a majority decision victory over Sinead Kavanaugh.   She is now positioned to be in line for a shot at the women’s bantamweight title with a win on Friday night.

Smith did the majority of her training at the El Nino Training Center in Northern California with the Scrap Pack for this fight against Blencowe.  Despite the fact that some of the more famed members were in New York to help prep Nate Diaz for his fight at UFC 244 against Jorge Masvidal, Smith had ample training partners and coaches to get her ready for her fight.

Smith is prepared for a standup fight with Blencowe who enters this contest with two KOs in her last two Bellator fights.   “I’m just working on being me,” Smith added about preparing for the former female boxer, “I’m sharper and tighter and even more dangerous.  My style in general is going to match up well.  She’s never faced somebody like me.”

In her promotional debut, Smith was a little surprised that her opponent didn’t “bring it” the entire time.  “I thought [Kavanaugh] she was going to stand a little more instead of kind of running.”  Smith won the majority decision this past July.

Not only is Smith of the Scrap Pack, she is also a part of the Yang Gang as a staunch supporter of Democratic candidate Andrew Yang for President.

To borrow a phrase from fellow stablemate, Nate Diaz, “I’m not surprised,” Smith said of the popularity of Yang’s campaign.  “I think the freedom dividend will do big things for the economy,” said Smith of Yang’s idea to provide $1,000 a month for each adult American.  “He’s got a lot of people who are smart that are very excited about him.”

Smith introduced Yang at a campaign stop in San Francisco this past March.  Notably, Yang has supported the rights of mixed martial arts fighters in organizing a union or association to advocate for their rights as well as an expansion of the Ali Act to cover mixed martial artists.  Smith spoke passionately about the inequality in the United States noting that the disproportionality of income in the nation is at the same levels as it was in the 1920.  “I feel like a part of that is that a lot of these large companies have figured out how to take advantage of the gig economy.”  “Andrew Yang’s plan is going to be huge for the economy.”

As for the showdown against former boxer Belcowe on Friday, she is ready to stand and bang.  Smith sees that with a win against the Australian, she deserves a shot at Featherweight Julia Budd.  “This is really exciting to be in a promotion that is merit based and get the opportunity to fight for the title.”

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