Leslie Smith Claims Free Agency After Declining UFC Atlantic City Bout

April 20, 2018

Leslie Smith went into Friday morning’s UFC Fight Night 128 weigh-in with a two-fight winning streak in her back pocket, hoping to make weight, get a win over Aspen Ladd on Saturday, and perhaps parlay that into a new UFC contract.

A few hours later and Smith is without a fight and without a contract with no apparent interest from the UFC in resigning her. At least, that’s the way she sees it.

Smith stepped on the scale Friday morning in Atlantic City at 135.4 pounds, easily making weight for the bantamweight bout. Ladd, however, weighed 137.8 pounds. With the one-pound overage allowed for non-title fights, Ladd was still 1.8 pounds beyond the limit for the fight.

In such cases, it is standard practice for the fighter who missed weight to relinquish a percentage of her fight purse to her opponent. The initial offer in this case was for Ladd to forfeit 20-percent of her fight purse to Smith in order to keep the fight intact. 

Smith declined.

Ladd later said that after Smith declined to accept the fight, she offered to sweeten the deal by forfeiting an additional $5,000 to her. Ladd indicated that Smith still declined. 

Smith told MMAJunkie Radio on Friday that she was unaware of the additional offer, but also indicated that it wouldn’t have mattered if she had known of it.

“That never came to me, but even if I had heard about her offer, it would not have changed things,” she said. “Because once she opened that door, it became about more than her. It turned into an opportunity to (extend) my contract with the UFC.”

Leslie Smith Says the UFC Declined to Resign Her

With the fight being the final one on her contract, Smith thought that she might be able to use Ladd’s miss on the scale as an opportunity to leverage a new two-fight contract, but that’s not the way it played out. It appears to be quite the opposite, as Smith said that the UFC, for all intents and purposes, bought her out of the last fight on her contract and expressed no interest in resigning her.

“They said they had no interest in extending my contract at this time, and instead, they offered me my show and win money,” Smith today told MMAjunkie Radio. “So they said they’ll just pay me off, and since they’re giving me the win bonus, it counts as the last fight on my contract. So, I guess that would mean I’m a free agent now.”

UFC officials have not yet commented on Smith’s contractual status.