Staff Sgt. Colton Smith said he's enjoyed all the support from his fans in the wake of his UFC loss on Saturday. (Mike Morones / Staff)
Staff Sgt. Colton Smith is optimistic and says he's 'young in the sport.' (Robert Zuckerman)
The Army’s only active-duty UFC fighter may have fallen in the cage, but he doesn’t want sympathy.
“I’m not the kind of guy when I lose, or when I have a downfall, something bad happens I want someone to feel sorry for me,” Staff Sgt. Colton Smith said in a Wednesday phone interview with Army Times, days after his loss to Brazilian fighter Carlos Diego Ferreira.
An hour after his 38-second tap-out on Saturday in San Antonio, Smith said he was seated at Dick’s Last Resort with members of his cheering section — soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, where he serves as a senior combatives instructor.
“We just all sat around and traded war stories and just talked about the good times,” Smith said. “Most of them have competed in combatives tournaments ... they understand what it is, how it is. It’s a game of inches.”
Regarding the fight, Smith said he “felt amazing” going in, but that he suffered for an early misstep.
“Unfortunately I made a costly mistake against the fence, got my hips high and he threw me and got my neck,” he said.
Perhaps the bigger takeaway from the match, however, is that Smith’s fan base, even after his third-straight loss, is as strong as ever.
Army Times found that out the hard way on Monday, when we took a jab at Colton’s showing in the headline of a Facebook post linking to our fight recap—and paid the price. Readers said they were appalled at the “cheap” shot, and Smith’s phone quickly lit up, alerting him to the slight.
“I laughed at first, but then I started thinking, ‘It’s the Army Times writing that, not some small-time MMA news network,’ ” Colton said. “It hurt a little bit. It stung, but I did lose. It’s not a false headline.”
Even so, he appreciated the showing from his fans, some of whom drafted colorful responses to Army Times. (One reader said the Army Times editor officially earned the “asshole tab” for failing to support Smith, and another suggested the whole news operation shove a cactus where the sun don’t shine.)
“That felt good to know that I’ve got that many people in my corner from all over the globe,” Smith said.
He also got a call from Sgt. 1st Class Tim Kennedy, a National Guard member and professional fighter with an undefeated record in the UFC.
“Tim’s a wealth of knowledge,” Smith said. “He knows the level I possess as a mixed-marital arts fighter. He’s told me I’m a high level. I just need to apply it in the cage.”
Smith said he has yet to hear from UFC officials about his fighting future, and he acknowledges he could be cut.
“It’s inevitable if you lose enough fights or have a poor performance, then the UFC can cut you,” he said. “There’s a lot of hungry guys that want to come in and fill those spots.”
Smith has not won a fight since a Dec. 15, 2012, win by decision over Mike Ricci that earned him the title of “The Ultimate Fighter” for the 16th season of the promotion’s reality television show.
Despite the losses, Smith is confident he can bounce back.
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint — you know, the whole career is — and I’m young in the sport, and have a lot to learn,” he said.
Staff writer Kevin Lilley contributed to this report.