Scott Smith is known for his crowd-pleasing style. Never afraid to trade his "Hands of Steel" with anyone, Smith scored a rousing, come-from-behind knockout over stone-fisted Benji Radach in his last bout despite suffering a concussion in the process.
On June 6, he takes on the always exciting Nick Diaz in a Strikeforce fight that promises to be a thriller.
Smith recently took a few minutes out of training to talk to FanHouse about potentially moving down a weight class, preparing for Diaz, why he likes getting under Tom Atencio's skin and more.
Mike Chiappetta: What made this Nick Diaz fight so appealing to you that you'd want to cut to 180?
Scott Smith: Nick has been on a tear, he's been dominating everyone he fights. He's a huge name, one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. In my last fight I was 184, so it's only a four-pound difference. And it keeps me having to keep myself in shape. To make 185 is pretty easy. I was already light. When they asked me to take the fight I was only 195, so it was perfect timing.
Was there any thought to requesting the fight at 185? If Diaz is moving up, shouldn't he be the one to accommodate you and not vice versa?
That never even crossed my mind. I knew he fought Shamrock at 180, and I've actually toyed with the idea of fighting 170, so I wanted to see what it feels like to go a little bit lighter. It's actually pretty cool for me. I thought about going to 170, but now that 185 is so stacked in Strikeforce, I'm kind of leaning against it, but it's still something in the back of my head and something I might try in the future, so I don't mind going to a lighter weight.
You've been successful at 185. Why would you consider moving to 170?
Just because it's been so easy for me to make 185, and it'll keep me a little more honest with my diet, and it won't let me get out of shape. In that second Robbie Lawler fight, I made weight easy but I was soft, so I think this would force me to keep myself in better shape.
Will it also be dependent on results or how your body feels?
It's not near as likely as it was two fights ago. Now that I've had two big wins in a row and the 185-pound weight class is stacked in Strikeforce, it looks like that's where I'll be staying, but if 170 starts getting stacked and I start walking around at 190 like I am now, 170 might be good for me. My biggest strength is my punching power. If I don't lose that, it doesn't matter if I fight at 170, 185 or 205 as long as I have punching power.
With your take-one-to-give-one style, wouldn't it also help you as in theory the punchers are fewer in number as you move down weight classes?
That, too. Or it could work against me as I might be facing more technical, quicker fighters, too. That's why meeting Nick Diaz in the middle is a good test for me.
Nick likes to talk trash and get in his opponent's head. Will you play along with any trash-talking or just try to ignore it?
I'll just ignore it and let it fuel my power. I've never liked guys who sit there and talk trash. It's always bothered me, but he hasn't really talked trash in this fight, at least none that I've heard. If he does, I'm OK with it, because this is a time I can do something about it if I don't like what he says. It's not going to affect the fight at all.
The only thing I've heard him mention is that you shouldn't have your kids there when you fight.
The comment he made about the kids, I'm fine with that. It was more of a joke. I kind of chuckled at it myself. But if he says something that does get under my skin, I'll use it to my advantage. I've never gone into the cage pissed off and angry. I'd like to see how I did if I was.
There are differing thoughts out there about Nick and the way he represents the sport. You're a father. What do you think of the way he represents the sport? Does it bother you or is there room for different personalities like his?
There's room for different personalities. It's not my cup of tea but I look at him as a fighter and respect him as a fighter. That's my business with him, to step into the cage and fight. I do respect him as a fighter and I leave it at that.
You and Nick live less than an hour apart. Do you know each other?
When we see each other, it's a handshake or a head nod. We haven't really hung out outside of fighting.
You always make it known you like to fight in an exciting style and kind of go for broke. Why is that the best style for you?
I want to have fun when I'm out there fighting. I got into fighting for fun; I didn't do it for the money. If I were to go out there and just try to win a fight by lay-and-pray or just try to survive the distance, that's not for me. When you go for broke, you have a chance of getting caught. I'm OK with that. I don't like being a conservative fighter. If I was fighting and not having fun, that'd be the time for me to get out. It's not the style for everybody. But I'm also not an undefeated world champ, so maybe my style is not the best but it's what I enjoy doing so it's how I'm going to keep fighting.
So you don't see making changes as you start to get older?
I'm working on trying to get more technical now instead of being so much of a brawler. I'm definitely trying to improve my skills, that's for sure. But as far as laying it on the line, that's what I'm always going to do. I never want to go out there and say, 'Hey, I'm going to stay away from this guy and hope to win a decision.'
How did you first discover that you had so much punching power? Is it something you always had or was it something where all of a sudden, people you train with starting telling you it was there?
That's how it really came about. I had the wrestling background. I've always been real strong, real deceiving. I was a pudgy guy but real strong. Once I got into boxing, I was a gym rat and getting beat up by these good boxers. Once in a while I'd catch one of them, and they'd say, 'Man, if you can get some boxing together, you'll be a force to reckon with.' And then a few years ago I started working with Ganyao Fairtex and really started working on my boxing, and it's really come a long way. It's something I enjoy a lot more than the ground game.
You're such a powerful striker. Do you think Nick is going to be looking to bring this fight down?
Definitely. That's the smartest thing for him to do. I think my wrestling's pretty strong and I'm confident.
What do you think about his striking? A lot of people describe his punches as "pitter-patter" but something is obviously working as he gets results.
I think he doesn't get enough credit for his punching power. He pitter-patters at first, but if you watch, the last few punches always have power behind them. The style works for him. Look at guys' faces when he's done fighting them. They're all bruised up and beat up, so he's got to have some punching power. It can't all be pitter-patter.
What's the best way to beat Nick Diaz?
My power. I'm going to have to use my punching power to beat him.
Everyone knows Nick is a cardio machine. The guy even does triathlons. How do you get your stamina to the point you can go his pace for 15 minutes?
Each fight I'm trying to conditioning myself more. I've been working with a new core conditioning coach. Nobody is going to outlast Diaz but I've got to be able to go full bore 15 minutes, and I feel that I can right now.
Nick is obviously a very highly rated and respected fighter. What does a win do for you?
It definitely gets me either a title fight or moves me one win away. The winner of me and Diaz and Lawler and Shields could possibly either fight each other to see who fights for the belt. Or you could also throw Joey Villasenor in the mix. He hasn't fought for a while, but there's three guys who deserve a title fight. So out of those three, somebody should fight for the title, and the other two should fight to see who gets the next shot.
As a fighter who was in EliteXC, what does it feel like to be with Strikeforce now. Does it have a more comfortable, stable feeling? Do you think it will have more legs?
I definitely do. EliteXC did treat me great. I got along with everyone there. But Strikeforce, their long-term goal is a lot bigger and better. So I'm very comfortable that they'll be doing big things for a long time.
Finally, I have to ask you about your post-fight in-ring interviews. You like to tease your friends after your fights and pay special attention to Affliction's Tom Atencio. How did that all start and how do you have the presence of mind to remember that stuff after a fight?
You know what? I had a bad concussion last fight, so I don't know how I thought to say it. But it all started a few fights ago when Tom Atencio and my training partner James Irvin missed my fight in Florida, and I'd told them, 'You better not miss my fight or I'll dog you out on Showtime.' They missed the fight and I made a joke about it.
It's been three times now I've made a joke about Tom. It's a running joke now. He was at my last fight, but I feel it's tradition now and I have to find a way to make a jab at him. And he's so concerned about me doing it that I feel like I have to do it now.
So he asks you not to do it?
That's the problem. He's like, 'OK, you got me. I'm coming to the fight. You don't have to say anything.' We like to bust each other's b****.
Do you already know what you're going to say about him?
Absolutely. It's one of those things, when I'm on the treadmill and I'm going for 30-40 minutes hardcore, I'm playing the fight in my head over and over in all these scenarios. And that's actually something that comes to my head after the fight. How are you going to win the fight? What are you going to say after the fight? So I'm sitting there running 10 miles per hour with a little smile on my face thinking about what I'm going to say about Tom.