Former UFC fighter Leslie Smith’s efforts against the promotion have fallen short after the National Labor Relations Board dismissed her complaint.
Brett Okamoto of ESPN reported that the NLRB ruled against Leslie Smith. The board ruled that the UFC did not act in retaliation of Smith’s Project Spearhead when buying out Smith’s contract during UFC Atlantic City. Smith’s lawyer, Lucas Middlebrook, stated that he will appeal the decision.
One of the central parts of Smith’s complaint is the status of UFC fighters as independent contractors rather than employees. Due to the ruling that the promotion did not retaliate against Smith, this point of the complaint was never addressed by the agency.
Leslie Smith originally filed the complaint in May after a saga that resulted in her release. Smith was scheduled to fight Aspen Ladd, but Ladd missed weight. The bantamweight refused to fight Ladd without an extension of her current contract. The promotion did not budge, and instead paid Smith her full purse, then bought out her full contract to render her a free agent.
Smith was let go by the promotion in the midst of a three-fight win streak at bantamweight, with a loss in between to Cris Cyborg that welcomed her to the Octagon. With that in mind, Smith claimed the motivating factor behind her losing her spot on the roster was the unionization effort, not her in-Octagon performance.
Leslie Smith has yet to sign with another promotion, and has focused on developing Project Spearhead. Today’s development is a huge roadblock for Smith, but with Middlebrook stating that there will be an appeal process, this journey is far from over. Middlebrook also stated that he believes Dana White pulled “political strings” in order to prevent Smith’s movement from gaining steam. White has previously said that this ordeal is “someone else’s problem.”