Jake Smith had a rough return to competition at Bellator 226. He sat out of MMA for a while to get over a hip injury that had sidelined him and while he lost that return fight, getting to the next one matters more than the last one. With MMA being put on hold when a short-notice opportunity comes up for someone with the competitive mindset of Smith, there’s no way he could turn it down.
Submission Underground 12 (SUG 12) airs Sunday on UFC Fight Pass and it is the submission-only grappling event that Chael Sonnen has been putting together since 2016. The event will be living up to its name this weekend as it seems to be a truly underground event with the location not known. However, Sonnen is determined to put on the only live event for antsy combat sports fans so he had to tap his Gracie Barra Portland teammate Smith to jump on the card.
“Uncle Chael gives you a call and asks for a favor, normally you’re giving him a call and asking for the favor,” Smith told MyMMANews about how getting on a sub-only card on four days notice came to be. So, agreeing to do it was a no-brainer, “When he taps you on the shoulder, you show up and do what you can.” As far as being ready with only four days’ notice, that’s another story.
Saying “yes” to a mentor and teammate doesn’t require any specifics to follow through. When asked about weight class and opponent, Smith says he tells people, “Tune in Sunday and you’ll see.” However, he also says, “I’m not a small dude. I fight at 155 but I’m probably 155 three days out of the year.” The bottom line for Smith is to keep moving forward. “I like to compete,” said Smith, “That’s why I’m an athlete. So, for me to be able to do something and compete, especially during a time like this when no one can do anything, I’m going to jump all over that.”
Everyone will likely have an opinion after SUG 12 going forward this weekend, but for Smith, he says, “It’s the only sporting event happening in the world, why not snag a few fans or more people to hate me.”
SUG 12 airs on Sunday 3 P.M. PST/6 P.M. EST on UFC Fight Pass.