The move was a somewhat curious one given that Smith is a respected commentator with years of experience in the biggest fight organizations in the world. Some wondered if there was some sort of discord between
According to Smith, he took a big risk by signing with the UFC because they acknowledged they could only offer him a one-year contract with nothing beyond 2018:
“Here’s the deal. I took a big risk, and I knew that. And what happened was, my Bellator contract was up and they wanted to kind of redo the one that I had, it’s a long story. The UFC came to us and said, ’Look, we don’t know where we’re going in 2019.’ The ESPN deal hadn’t been signed. We can’t do more than a year deal because we don’t know where we’re going. No one has anything past 2018.”
So Smith knew he was taking a big gamble, yet it was one he thought he had to take:
“So I went okay, this is kind of a risk, signing a contract for just a year, but I gotta take the leap and try. I have to do what I can. And I took a gamble, I did. So yeah, that’s why I’m in the situation that I’m in.”
The Real Reason
Smith then opened up about the real reason the UFC decided not to re-sign him. He said it was because the UFC was going with fighters as commentators in 2019:
“Very simply, it was, ‘you’re great, fantastic, we love everything you did but we’re going with UFC fighters for 2019. So, that’s it. I don’t think I’m leaving out any syllables. It was literally that was the conversation. It was, ‘love everything you did, fewer shows, we’re going with UFC fighters for those shows.’
“That was it. Other than Joe [Rogan] it’s all UFC fighters, that’s it. ‘We had no issue with your performance, everybody loved you, but you didn’t fight in the UFC,’ so that’s it.”
The UFC’s decision to go with fighters in the broadcast booth is a new direction for them. It’s also one they’ve been trending towards more and more in recent years. For 2019, they’ve obviously decided to commit to that strategy full-on.
Time will tell if it pays off for them, but in the meantime, Smith is out on the streets. Don’t be surprised if he resurfaces with a new promotion very soon.
You can watch his full interview with Luke Thomas here: