“Sometimes you get a guy that’s mean and nasty and is going to hurt you and pressure you and drag you and push you around,” Smith said of his opponent. “I’m not to be bullied. He’s not going to bully me.”
Smith says this with every ounce of confidence he can muster. And it’s not bravado. He believes it, and he believes he’s shown it ever since the days when tough was all he had.
“I don’t know any different,” he said. “For the longest time, I wasn’t very good at fighting. All I had for the longest time was just that heart and determination. So I haven’t known what it was like to not have it because I depended on it for so long. Listen, I beat a lot of people I should never beat. I know that moment when s**t hits the fan and everything’s going bad, and this all really sucks. If I feel like that, I know for sure you feel like that, and I’ll just keep going. I don’t give a s**t. I am not that good anyways. That’s my mindset. I’m not that good anyways, so this is what I got. As soon as you get there, that’s exactly where I need to be.”
And while Smith may not always leave that dogfight with a win, his opponent will know that he’s had to go to some dark places to beat him. That’s a tough way to make a living for the one who wins and the one who loses, and most wouldn’t understand why Smith and his peers go through all this if they don’t have to. And these days, he doesn’t. But he does it because there’s something about being in the heat of the battle that’s addicting to him. That feeling may never go away. So what can possibly replace it?
“I don’t know,” he laughs. “Scary thought, huh?”
It is, and we dance around the subject a bit before we come back to it.
“I don’t know,” said Smith. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. That’s the most terrifying thing in the world to me. What happens when I don’t have this anymore? I gave you a bunch of reasons why I wanted to fight, but maybe those are just justifications because my wife said the same thing. Why? And I just kept saying, why not? I got more reasons to not fight than I need to fight. But like I told my wife, and she keeps repeating this to all of her friends who keep saying, ‘Why is he doing this?’ She said, ‘I’ll tell you what he said,’ and she’ll quote it or screenshot it, and I’ll say the same thing. Sometimes a guy just needs to feel like he’s alive.”