Leslie Smith likes being the underdog.
In the main event of Bellator 259, Smith gets a chance to try and exact some revenge against Cris Cyborg, but this time a belt is on the line. The two met at UFC 198 at a 140-pound catchweight, where Cyborg earned a first-round TKO.
Although Cyborg dominated the fight, Smith says she knows they both changed and this is a much more competitive fight than the first time.
“We both changed,” Smith told MMA Junkie at Wednesday’s Bellator 259 media day. “We both have been doing this for a long time, and I know that I have a much higher level of fight maturity, fight knowledge. I’m more cerebral. I have a better understanding on how to create and exploit opportunities than I ever did, but I know that she has changed a lot, too. I think as our styles have evolved, I think this has made the fight a lot more interesting than the first fight.”
Entering the fight, Leslie Smith is a massive +850 underdog. However, she is embracing the underdog role and knows she has what it takes to pull off the upset and become the new Bellator featherweight champion.
“I’ve always seen myself as an underdog; it’s a position that I celebrate,” Smith said. “You mention the labor stuff that I care about, and if that isn’t embracing the dynamics of an underdog, then I don’t know what is because in this society and the U.S. workers and the employment relation that is to be an underdog. So just as I’m working to know more about that, I’m working on showing that as the underdog I can still be the top dog.”
Leslie Smith is 12-8-1 as a pro and coming off a win over Amanda Bell. She’s 4-1 in her last five with notable wins over Amanda Lemos and Irene Aldana.