2013 was perhaps both the best year and worst year for Colorado middleweight Gilbert Smith.
After building a solid beginning in the Colorado Springs fight scene, Smith was given an opportunity to participate in The Ultimate Fighter reality series where things took a turn for the worse.
“Having the opportunity to be on probably the greatest season of TUF since season one or season five was a huge honor for me,” said Smith. “I got an opportunity to fight on a main card in the UFC and I couldn’t come out with a win and I got cut, so it sent me right back to the drawing board.”
Following his release from the UFC, Smith decided it was time for a change, and after an overhaul of his training routine, won back-to-back fights to close out last year.
“Obviously (TUF) was a huge learning experience and it just told me at the time that it wasn’t my time,” he said. “So I came back to my camp and I worked hard and now I’m on a two fight winning streak.”
Smith went from primarily overlooking his training camps by himself to joining a team and having others help shape the way he put his skills together.
“I was really training and coaching myself,” said Smith. “I had specialized coaches like a boxing coach and a jiu-jitsu coach, but all-around it was just me. There was nobody to put it all together for me.
“I’ve been working with Mark Montoya (at Factory X) and he’s helped redefine me as a fighter. I’ve always had a good all-around game, but sometimes I get single-mindedly driven, and now with my team and my coach I’ve been mixing it all together.”
“I don’t put too much thought into it,” said Smith. “Jason’s got some good wins, has a good record, comes from a good camp and looks tough, but the thing about it is, I don’t really care. I don’t like to make things complicated.
“At the end of the day, we’re both going into the cage to try to hit each other, choke each other, and slam each other, so what it comes down to is who gets there first and is the more accomplished guy – that’s it.”
After rebounding off the toughest part of his career last year, Smith is looking to reach new highs with a new promotion and put himself on the 185-pound map in 2014.
“I’ve got a three-fight deal with the MFC and my goal is to go undefeated in the MFC,” he said. “First things first, come Jan. 17 against Jason South, I have to go out and make a statement and let people know I’m for real and belong on the biggest stage in the world.”