Having last fought in August of 2019, lightweight Devonte Smith was looking to get back into the Octagon with a bang when he faced Justin Jaynes at UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Volkov in early February.
With just over a minute remaining in the second round of the bout, the fight was stopped after Jaynes was unable to see out of a badly swollen eye. It was Smith’s his first win in almost exactly two years.
“I felt good,” Smith told MMAWeekly.com. “I feel like I did good considering it had been something like 536 days since (I was last) fighting. I got back in and felt like I was present, I felt like I was there, and performed like I wanted.”
While Smith would have liked to have put a definitive stamp on his return, he’s happy to have gotten the win any way it came to him.
“I didn’t really notice (Jaynes’ eye) until he got out of the choke and tried to get into my guard,” said Smith. “I (then) noticed his eye was swollen and I thought that they were going to end it because you can’t see out of your eye when it’s swollen.
“When (the referee) stopped it, I was very surprised that he stopped it, but I wasn’t mad he stopped it. A win is a win.”
Back on the winning track for the first time in a long time, Smith now turns his attention towards continuing to improve his game. He knows he needs to keep getting better should he want to work his way up the lightweight ranks in the UFC.
“I want to get better in everything: wrestling offense and defense, my striking, my boxing, my Muay Thai, every single skill,” Smith said.
“I want to get better in a great manner because the 155-pound division is very stacked. In the Top 10, Top 15, they have very big competition, so I’ve got to be on my toes, and use whatever fighter IQs to beat these guys.”
While he knows the competition only gets more difficult from here, Smith feels like with his win on Feb. 6, he’s on the right path for 2021.
“This year is better than last year because last year I didn’t fight,” said Smith. “I feel like I’m headed in a positive direction.
“(Whether I have) three or four fights this year, that’s the goal. I feel like I’m going to go in the right direction to get to that goal. I’m excited to finally be back in there instead of taking constant breaks.”
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