Cole Smith is looking to make it 2-0 in the hallowed UFC Octagon this weekend in his home city of Vancouver as he takes on a fellow unbeaten prospect in Miles Johns.
The bantamweight showdown will take place this Saturday at UFC Fight Night 158 at Rogers Arena. The UFC’s return to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada will be headlined by a lightweight slugfest between Justin Gaethje and Donald Cerrone.
Following his organizational debut win over Mitch Gagnon at May’s UFC Ottawa event, “The Cole Train” was hoping to return to Canada for his next appearance. While he had originally planned to fight in July at UFC 240 in Edmonton, Smith will now compete in his backyard.
In regards to Johns being his opponent, the 30-year-old Smith believed that would be his next matchup, even before the contract was sent over.
“It was almost kind of expected,” Smith told The Body Lock. “I don’t know why but I just had a feeling I would be fighting him. Other than that, it doesn’t really matter. I’m just happy to be competing, I’m happy to be fighting in Vancouver and it doesn’t really matter against who.”
Following his UFC contract earning win on Dana White’s Contender Series, Johns spoke to The Body Lock and had Smith on his mind as a potential opponent for his UFC debut. Smith was, oddly enough, in attendance for Johns’ victory over Richie Santiago. While he was mentioned by Johns, Smith isn’t the kind of guy who gets caught up in the YouTube and MMA interview rabbit hole.
The quasi callout was news to Smith, but he feels like the pressure of the fight has now been fully moved over to his opponent’s shoulders.
“I don’t really watch other people’s interviews so I had no idea (that he was interested in fighting me),” Smith explained. “If that’s the case, all of the pressure is on him if he called me out and wanted to fight me. I’m all good. I saw him fight (on the Contender Series) in Vegas and he looked tough. He looked like a good fighter so it should be good.
“You’re in the UFC for a reason, right? Just getting there is impressive so he’s obviously a good fighter. From what I have seen, I’ve heard he’s a really nice guy.”
Working with guys like ONE Championship’s Bibiano Fernandes and Canadian prospect Jamie Siraj, Smith feels like he has the training partners and team behind him to adequately prepare for whatever Johns will bring to the Octagon on Saturday. On the flip side — even though Johns trains at one of MMA’s surging gyms in Fortis MMA — Smith doesn’t believe Johns will be able to find anybody that can match his style, length, and strength that he brings to the table.
“I feel like I’ve fought guys like him before — the shorter, stalkier guys with hands, that wrestler type,” Smith said. “It’s really hard to find someone who fights like me. It’s really hard. There’s not too many guys who move like I do and throw the s**t that I throw, so it’s hard to find a training partner like that. Mitch Gagnon was the same kind of style but he had a little more experience. So I feel like it’s a good matchup for me, for sure.”
Like his opponent, Smith isn’t a prediction guy. The former Battlefield Fight League bantamweight champion only sees his hand being raised and leaving the first blemish on the professional record of the 25-year-old Johns.
“I know I’m going to be big and I know I’m going to be strong,” Smith stated. “Of course, I see it going my way, but it’s just so tough. The sport is so unpredictable that you have no idea. You could be a striker and submit the guy, so I take things when they’re given to me. We’ll see what happens.”
Cole Smith is ready to build on the momentum he’s created his entire professional career while fighting in front of his family and friends. Of course, Smith will get a huge hometown reaction when he walks to the Octagon, a feeling that can only be bested by getting his hand raised on Saturday. However, Smith is ready to bask in the comfortability and familiarity of a Vancouver fight week.
“It’s obviously a dream come true fighting in the UFC and fighting in Vancouver in front of all my friends and family,” Smith said.
“The best part is, I’m comfortable. I know where everything is, I know where I can eat, I know directions everywhere, and all of those little things really add up to a good fight. I think that’s the most important part. It’s nice fighting in front of everybody, but it’s nicer to be comfortable and know what I’m doing out here.”