Female bantamweight Leslie Smith had a fairly decent run in the UFC, losing to the best and beating the rest. But her extracurricular activities included a drive to have fighters unionize, and now she’s no longer fighting for the organization.
She’s a little peeved about how that all came about.
Smith was on the last fight of her contract and was supposed to face Aspen Ladd at UFC Fight Night 128 this past weekend, but when Ladd failed to make weight, it set in motion a chain of events that had the UFC paying Smith her show- and win-money and passing on re-signing her.
At first blush, it would appear that that had something to do with Smith’s efforts to form a fighters union. And maybe it has everything to do with that. But so what? There is no obligation on the UFC’s part to keep anyone on the payroll.
Anyway, Smith was on Ariel Helwani’s “The MMA Hour” to rap about her plight.
Smith was on a two-fight winning streak and a top-10 ranked fighter in the women’s bantamweight division. She called the UFC’s actions, in what she believes was basically paying her to go away, “unprecedented” and she plans on taking up claims with the federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and a court in her home state of California.
“It’s my opinion that what the UFC did was illegal,” Smith said. “Because they have created a situation where it encourages a climate of fear where the other people in the UFC on the roster are going to be fearful of publicly organizing and standing up for their rights.
“By creating a climate of fear, that violates federal law. That’s the whole point of the National Labor Relations Board and the laws that are in there.”
Smith said she is currently consulting with New York labor attorney Lucas Middlebrook, who is an advisor for Project Spearhead and known in MMA circles for being Nick Diaz’s lawyer in front of the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) in 2015.
“I am surprised,” Smith said of the UFC parting ways with her. “I think that it opens up an examination of how they feel about my activities in organizing the fighters recently. I think by doing unusual behavior, it’s going to ask what are the unusual circumstances leading to this?”