Bellator featherweight title challenger Leslie Smith applied the lessons of studying labor movements in college to her approach to fighting. One of its main takeaways is that organizing people takes more finesse than power – and conviction to get the mission done.
When Smith looks at Georges St-Pierre’s inability to participate in a boxing match with Oscar De La Hoya, she draws a direct line between the former UFC champion’s fate and his decision to drop an effort for create a collective agreement for combatants.
Smith, who faced Cris Cyborg for the Bellator 259 title on Friday, believes St-Pierre would be able to fight De La Hoya if the Ali Act were applied to MMA. The UFC contract St-Pierre signed in 2016 would be precluded by law that protects fighters from onerous long-term contracts, she said, and the promotion would not have the power to block future fights.
UFC President Dana White declined to consider loaning St-Pierre to face De La Hoya in a game promoted by Triller Fight Club, denigrating the promotion’s repeated efforts to gain permission.
But Smith also said St-Pierre could have prevented such a result before that had he seen things come to fruition with the MMA Athletes Association, a short-lived organizing effort in which he played a major role.
“One of the things about Ali’s Law is that it prevents these long-term contracts, and that’s exactly what Dana White is using to prevent GSP from having this fight,” Smith told MMA Fighting. “But you know what would have made an even bigger difference in all of this is if GSP had maintained their organizing effort that they started in 2017. I believe they had the best leadership setup than anyone else. world would have followed, and that if they had been convinced and stuck with that something would have happened.
“As we know, they gave up on that effort, and GSP got a contract to fight in the UFC for a title after several years away, immediately after doing so. [union] effort. It would have made the biggest difference if they hadn’t.
In 2017, St-Pierre said his new contract with the UFC did not mean he was done with MMAAA, but that the group subsequently failed because they failed to gain support from the current fighters. . Smith later co-founded his own group to organize fighters called Project Spearhead. The group sought to recruit 30% of active UFC roster members to sign union clearance cards that would trigger a review to determine if they are independent contractors – as they are currently classified – or employees with the right to form a trade union.
Although Project Spearhead did not achieve that goal, Smith continues to advocate for fighters to organize to create a collective agreement that she believes would balance the scales of power between fighters and promotions. In the meantime, she is studying work at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations as she reboots her MMA career at Bellator after her release from the UFC sparked a work complaint.
Since picking up the books, Smith not only sees the fighting game differently, but the actual cage fights, which she says will help her overcome the challenge of beating Cyborg, who stopped her in one. turn when they met at UFC five. since.
Rather than meeting strength with strength and potency with potency, Smith aims to use a little more of that finesse to outsmart Cyborg.
“Before, my fighting mentality was that I didn’t care if I got hit, as long as I could hit them back,” she said. “I had so much fun throwing punches that they weren’t even always accurate. I was just like, ‘Woo, look at me, I’m doing this!’ And it’s more important to do it right than to just do it.