For flyweight Nate Smith, 2020 presented difficulties not only for his career but for his personal life as well.
Due to COVID-19, Smith was only able to get in one bout in 2020, but a loss outside the cage was far more impactful not only for the difficulty it presented him, but also the motivation it gave him to move forward.
“Last year was extremely difficult, not speaking fighting-wise, but it was more a personal matter,” Smith told MMAWeekly.com. “A few months ago I had to bury my baby brother, who was murdered in Chicago, so I had to deal with that.
“For me, personally, we needed to sit down and just grieve. Dealing with it is one of the hardest things on the planet. (At the same time) me sitting down and not doing anything would piss off my baby brother. He would be mad as crap and ask what the hell I was doing. So it took me some time to heal a little bit, kind of did my own thing, then I was training, pushing, pushing, pushing, getting my head right.”
With all that has happened, Smith goes into his 2021 with a drive to achieve the goals he has set out for himself his whole career up to this point.
“I’m definitely approaching this (upcoming fight) with a chip on my shoulder,” said Smith. “I made a goal in my career of winning a world title and that’s what I’m going to do.
“It’s one of those deals where I have to go in and handle business. The cage is my home, the cage is my home, and in my home I don’t let anyone take anything from me. That right there, that belt, it’s coming home with me.”
This Friday in Park City, Kansas, Smith (6-1) will look to add that title to his resume when he faces Victor Altamarino (8-1) in the 125-pound championship main event of LFA 100.
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“The key is me going in there and doing what I do best, and that’s dominate and do whatever I can to win the fight,” Smith said. “Just getting after it and just getting business done.
“Again, (Altamarino is) coming into my house, and whether he feels like it or not, it’s my home, and there’s nothing he can do about it. I plan on making sure he doesn’t have an answer. He has to figure me out (not the other way around).”
Having gotten on the radar with the UFC on the Contender Series last year, an LFA title could vault him back into contention for taking that next step before the year’s end.
“I know I’m on Dana (White’s) radar,” said Smith. “I know even in that loss (at Contender Series) I made a statement that I’m ready to get to that next level.
“Criteria-wise I think this will help me a lot, but I’ll take it one thing at a time and focus on the individual in front of me – and he’s got to go. “