Leslie "The Peacemaker" Smith, the No. 10-ranked female bantamweight in the world, is planning to reach out to Scott Coker. She will be looking to explore opportunities to fight under the Bellator MMA banner.
In an interview with MMA Junkie on April 20, the hard-hitting Californian stated her intentions to hit the open market with a bang. Smith, who went 4-2 in the UFC between 2014 and 2017, was scheduled to compete against surging prospect Aspen Ladd in a bantamweight feature fight on April 21 in Atlantic City.
But after Ladd failed to make the 136-pound weight limit for a non-title bantamweight clash, the 35-year-old Smith decided to turn down the fight. The UFC responded by paying "The Peacemaker" her show money and win bonus, for a total of $62,000.
However, the promotion also opted against inking her to a new contract. The Ladd fight was the last on Smith's deal with the UFC, so the promotion had the option to not renew. How did it all unfold on fight week?
Smith asked the UFC for a two-fight extension worth $100,000 per appearance. The UFC declined, so she then countered with an offer to keep fighting at her current pay rate. The promotion declined that offer as well, according to the fighter.
By Smith's estimation, the UFC's decision to decline the extension will essentially make her a free-agent in the near future. Luckily, there are more opportunities than ever for high-level professional MMA fighters.
Bellator has a slew of top talent for Smith to potentially face, including Brooke Mayo and Anastasia Yankova. "The Peacemaker" could compete for either at bantamweight or flyweight, though she once even competed at 140 pounds to fight Cris "Cyborg" Santos. A return to Invicta FC, the promotion she competed in between 2012 and 2013, might also be an option.