UFC 288’s Braxton Smith Explains 8-Year Record Gap

Image via @PeakFighting on YouTube

If you’re like most fans, when you heard the booking between Parker Porter and recent UFC signee Braxton Smith, you asked yourself, ‘who is that guy?’.

It’s a reasonable question given the relatively short record of the newcomer. He has just six professional fights – five of which have taken place in the last twelve months. Nearly all of those fights were for Peak Fighting, for whom he is the first UFC graduate. All of those five recent fights also ended in less than half of a round.

However, if you dig to that lone loss, you’ll find the one fight that wasn’t a win and wasn’t in the last year. That fight was a 2014 loss to UFC veteran Chase Sherman, after which he disappeared from the cage for over 8 years.

“After that fight, I shouldn’t have lost that fight by the way, but after that fight, I kind of got away from the sport,” Smith explained. “My mom got me into it and when my mom passed I was kind of like ‘ah, I don’t want to do it.”

So after the passing of his mother, not only did he walk away from the sport, but his life also changed in a number of other ways as well. He left home and went in search of new experiences.

“I left Alabama and moved to Austin, Texas and was just discovering some new things – trying to figure out what I wanted to do in life, who I wanted to be. I started playing semi-pro football. I wound up signing a professional Arena contract to go play football,” he said. “I was basically just playing football, flag football and lifting weights – just meeting people and seeing the world for what it really was.”

While he enjoyed his stint in football and the people he met along the way, something was missing. Deep down, Braxton Smith always knew he’d come back to fighting. However, it took another major turn in his life to get back to a space where he was ready.

“I always knew I wanted to get back to fighting,” Smith said. “But it’s just not the right time. I kept pushing it off and didn’t really care about fighting any more until I had my little girl and got engaged. That changed me.”

With his new life, ‘The Beautiful Monster’ started looking to the future. He started mapping out where he wanted his life to go and got focused on making it a reality.

“I got a vision board and said ‘you know what – I’m going to be undefeated with all knockouts and I’m going to sign with a regional promotion and win a regional title. Then I’m going to sign with the UFC or Bellator or ONE Fighting’,” he recalled. “I wrote it all down, man. I gave myself two and a half years and I did it in less than a year.”

Just short of 12 months after he was reintroduced to the MMA world in the form of a devestating head kick, Smith has achieved his goal. He’ll make his UFC debut this Saturday at UFC 288 where he’ll take on Parker Porter. That fight will take place on the ESPN+ prelims starting at 6pm EST.

You can hear the entire audio of this interview at 1:17.