Getting His Shot: One-On-One With Bruce Smith

For the large majority of us, we will never know what it is like to compete for a championship. Whether it is in sports, Academic Decathlon, or even the ESPN spelling Bee, most of us won’t know what it’s like to put it all on the line for a title.

For Epic Fighting’s Bruce Smith, however, he has that championship opportunity right in front of him. Smith will be competing for the 145 lb. title at Epic Fighting on Friday September 26, 2014 at the Four Points Sheraton.

Rest assured, this is an opportunity Smith is not going to let slip through his hands. “I’m really hungry. I’ve been wanting a title shot since my last fight,” Smith explained. Smith attempted to cut down to 145 to fight at Epic 25. He was able to cut down to 150, but was told by the CAMO organization that he could not fight.

Bruce Smith, photograph courtesy of Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith, photograph courtesy of Bruce Smith

This time around, with the belt on the line, Smith is already ahead of the game and his preparation is far superior. “My weight is a lot better than it was. I’m already 10 pounds less than where I was at a couple weeks out from the last fight, so I’m definitely going to be on point come day of the weigh-ins,” Smith said.

In advance of this bout, Smith switched up his training and has been attacking it with reckless abandon. “Everything is coming together. I’ve come in here with a lot more “get to it” mentality than before. Before I’d lounge around a little bit, do a class here and there, and now I do at least 3 classes a day when I come in here,” Smith said.

Bruce Smith working ground and pound, photograph courtesy of Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith working ground and pound, photograph courtesy of Bruce Smith

One of the biggest changes Smith made was to begin training with famed UFC fighter Chris “The Crippler” Leben at Victory MMA and Fitness in Point Loma. Smith noticed a change immediately and is extremely pleased with the results.

“Chris Leben is a stand in your face, get the crap beat out of you, and beat the crap out of the guy in front of you. He has a lot to bring to the table MMA-wise. It’s definitely been a positive experience, I’ll tell you that.

“He’s pretty intense. He doesn’t go lightly, even when we are drilling, he doesn’t go lightly at all. He’s an ‘if you want to fight, you’re going to fight’ kind of guy,” Smith said.

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While Smith has benefited from Leben’s coaching expertise, Leben credits Smith’s fortitude and mindset for making him an ideal student. “He’s tough, I think that’s probably the biggest thing. That’s the easiest thing and probably the most important thing about fighting. Don’t get me wrong, the skill is there as well, but he’s always in there, he’s always ready to bang, he’s not afraid to take a hit to give a hit, which makes for an exciting fight, but also makes for a great guy to coach and train,” Leben explained.

Leben has noticed a change in Smith’s attitude and dedication to training for his championship shot. “Every practice he’s amped up and he trains hard. I don’t have to try to motivate him, he’s already motivated. He’s in here all the evenings that I’m training. He’s training with me consistently now, and with that I’ve seen a lot of improvement,” Leben said.

Bruce Smith, photo courtesy of Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith, photo courtesy of Bruce Smith

Leben’s technical fighting knowledge has been invaluable to Smith, but perhaps even more importantly, Leben has been able to prepare Smith for the charged atmosphere of a fight on the big stage. “The title fights are at the end of the show. The crowd is drunk, everybody is a little bit louder, everybody is there. The first couple fights of the night only about half the people are there, everybody is kind of quiet, but when you’ve got that higher energy, a fighter is going to do one of two things: He’s either going to feed on it, or he’s going to get the ‘big-show shutdown’,” Leben said.

Heading into the title fight, Smith is confident that his increased dedication to training, coupled with Leben’s coaching and UFC expertise, will make for an exciting fight at Epic 26. “Expect fireworks, I’m definitely coming out with bad intentions. I definitely want that belt wrapped around my waist. I don’t want a new guy who’s never fought for Epic before to come in and try to claim the belt when he doesn’t have one fight for Epic, so I’m definitely going to come to take that belt home,” Smith said.

Bruce would like to give shout-outs to his wife, his Mom, Holy Grail Vapes, Mulatto Designs, and Down 2 Scrap. Be sure to check out Smith and all of the other fighters at Epic 26 on Friday September 26, 2014 at the Four Points Sheraton.

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