Ladies and Gentlemen it is our honor to introduce out next interview here at ArtofMMA.com, The Ultimate Fighter Season 16 winner and currently active member of the US Army, Colton Smith!
First off Colton thank you for doing this interview, how has everything been going?
Smith: It’s been a great overall experience, I’m finally training more regularly and refining a lot of my skill sets that I haven’t had time to in the past.
Your life I am sure has got a lot busier in the last four month with raising two kids, being an active member of the Army and oh yeah winning TUF 16, can you walk us through what it’s been like?
Smith: It was a bit of a shock with all the PR and attention, but I like to think I stay very grounded and I try not to change myself or my lifestyle.
Let’s start from the beginning, what got you into the world of MMA?
Smith: Well it’s a long story so ill make it short. 7 days after returning from Iraq I was at a weigh-in for an MMA fight in Winchester, VA. A 185er didn’t show up so they called to the crowd and after a few beers I raised my hand got on the scale and after a 50sec rd1 TKO win the rest is history!
Do you feel your experience of being in the Army helped you because a great fighter?
Smith: Going into most of my fights I am usually the less experienced fighter but I believe my life experiences and the trials and tribulations I have overcome in the Army I.E. deployments, Ranger school, Sapper school,the discipline that’s instilled.. Sets me apart from my opponents and gives me the confidence and intestinal fortitude to get the W.
Who are some of your idols in and out of the sport?
Smith: First and foremost my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… As far as motivators, people like Dan Gable, J. Robinson and one of my cornerman Special Forces Sniper and UFC fighter Tim Kennedy, who has mentored me throughout my short time in the UFC.
How would you describe your style of fighting?
Smith: I intend to pressure my opponents until they give up or make a mistake that I can capitalize on.. I look forward to broadening my skillsets and showcasing that in my next fight!
How is it trying to balance your duties to your country and prepare for fights?
Smith: Duty always comes first and foremost, but I have a very loving and understanding wife/ family who realizes I have a GOD birthed dream to one day be a world champ and it takes sacrifice to continue to pursue my successful Army career and jump start my young UFC career!
There has always been a good percentage of fighters in the UFC and MMA overall that have prior or are still active service members of their countries military (Couture, Rivera, Stann, Vera, Kennedy, Credeur just to name a few), do you feel that MMA is a good fit for employment for members of the military?
Smith: Without a doubt we are bred differently and have something inside us that most don’t possess.
I was actually in attendance on March 25th, 2011 in Norfolk, Va for your pro debut in M-1 Global, can you walk us through what that was like, making your pro debut on a big card for a huge promotion?
Smith: I was the underdog as usual lol but I applied my will got the TKD and quick victory.. Man was I a nervous wreck.
Speaking of different promotions, you have fought under the M-1 Global, Demolition Combat, Championship Fight Alliance and the UFC banners, can you tell us about the differences you have seen between those promotions?
Smith: Obviously the UFC is a well oiled machine and the premier organization, the others were great learning experiences as well.. Many ppl do not know that i never really trained for a fight until my finale fight, because of my military obligation, schools and overseas duties I never had the time or the means. Recently the Army has afforded me the opportunity to train soldiers in hand to hand combat and grappling, it definitely helps train and assist me in my training daily.
I have interviewed a couple of fighters in the past that were on various seasons of TUF can you talk to us about your experience on the show.
Smith: I’m one of the few that has nothing negative to say about the experience, now obviously I won so that may be part of it but I believe either way I would really have no regrets about it because of the notoriety and career boosting the show provides.
A lot was made of the entry fight where you took down your opponent when he was trying to touch gloves. You went on to explain your actions and seemed to smooth over but there was drama that season (like always), do you feel the cameras showed the real Colton Smith?
Smith: It was a takedown off the glove touch.. It was NOT on purpose or done maliciously, I was a wreck before that fight and made a lapse in judgement.. You live and you learn.. I think they fabricated some drama but I was fine with how they portrayed me but they didn’t show the positives of Roy Nelson as a coach.. Roy brought in badass assistant instructors Rashad, Forest, Gil Melendez, Diaz’s, Amir, Martin Kampmann, Mike Pyle, Royce Gracie and many more. They did not do him justice.
If you could do the show all over again would you and what would you do different?
Smith: I would in a heartbeat and I would touch gloves lol and not get punched in the face as much.. Maybe lose a little less blood
What was the hardest part of the show?
Smith: Obviously being away from my family and soldiers but I’m used to it by now.
Besides winning what was the best part of the show for you?
Smith: The overall experience meeting the fighters I met and learning techniques and skills from the best in the biz.
Coach Nelson brought in a ton of top guys including the Diaz brothers, Jake Shields and Gilbert Melendez, how was it training with those guys?
Smith: Unreal, they are all beasts and had a wealth of knowledge to share… It was an honor.. And they had awesome attitudes about the whole thing.
What was it like standing next to Steve Mazzagatti, waiting to hear the decision and then when your name was announced as the winner what went through your mind?
Smith: I knew I got the W… I was just overcome with emotions realizing a HUGE short term goal of mine was accomplished and it was the beginning of making a better life for my family.
How has your life changed since the end of the show?
Smith: Very busy w/ appearances and interviews but it’s all positive stuff that will assist in progressing my career, other than that I stay pretty grounded and haven’t changed much else in my life.
How has your life changed since winning?
Smith: Im ready for the next target.
Now that you have the contract what’s next? As of the time I am writing this I have not heard of your next opponent.
Smith: Nothing is signed yet, stay tuned.
You fight in the welterweight division that has been ruled by Georges St- Pierre for a long time but a lot of new tough guys have come in like Nick Diaz, Johny Hendricks and Rory MacDonald just to name a few, how do you feel you stack up with those guys?
Smith: Those guys are obviously at the Top of the chain and I know I have to work my way up, but I am not here for the fame or money I am here for the challenge and to be a student of the game, it’s my time to show what an active duty leader can do in the largest promotion in the world!
If you could stand across the cage from anyone in the UFC present or past who would it be and why?
Smith: James Toney.. So I can ankle pick him and send him back to boxing… Oh… If you could stand across the cage from anyone in the UFC present or pasth wait Randy already did that!
What are your feeling / thoughts on the new black eye on MMA, TRT (testosterone- replacement therapy) and what do you feel should be done about it?
Smith: I think the problem is far beyond TRT but I won’t venture into that… I doubt there will ever be anything done and ill just have to continue to bust my ass and separate myself from the lesser men who have “low T” poor guys…
What is the best part of being a professional fighter?
Smith: Showcasing to the world an active duty Army Leader can compete and be successful as a professional Athlete, and of course being a roll model.
Before we finish are there any people, sponsors or companies you would like to mention?
Smith: My wife and family, My Coaches, Teammates, the US Army, E9ine designs, Cook Chiro, The Mental Edge, Tina Vidal and ML Management, Advocare, Tapout, RangerUP.com, 3 corps Combatives instructors!
Thanks again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this. It has been a blast getting to know not only the fighter Colton Smith more but the person as well.