Jake Smith (7-2) scored a first-round finish over Steve Kozola when he made his Bellator debut at Bellator 193 in January of 2018. Earning a win like that usually builds hype behind a fighter when they have a showing like that in one of the top promotions in MMA, but injuries shelved the young lightweight since then. Now, to get back on track Smith will be facing Adam Piccolotti (11-3) at Bellator 226.
“He’s a scrappy mother**cker”, Smith told the Coast-2-Coast Combat Hour podcast of his upcoming opponent but added; “I’m looking forward to the challenge.” Challenges are nothing new to Smith as injuries have kept him from action, but with five of his seven wins coming by way of knock out Smith has proven he will fight through anything.
Smith thinks the fight is perfect for his return and said, “I’ve been out for so long, I feel like he’s kind of in the top of the division, slash you know mid-lower like top 10 of the division so, it’s a good test to see where I’m at.” Piccolotti lost a decision to Benson Henderson at Bellator 220 and has been active while Smith was out, so Smith believes the fight will be a good indicator for what Bellator should do with him should he win.
Since his last win, Smith has been dealing with a torn labrum in his hip, healing up, and doing everything necessary to return to action. “I’ve been doing nothing but rehab,” Smith said and had to turn down fights until he was ready to return. Names like Brandon Gertz and Goiti Yamauchi have come to Smith as possible opponents, but he had to turn them down.
“It’s been an uphill battle,” Smith said of what he has been dealing with, “Doctors are telling me I might need a hip replacement, and that I need to stop fighting.” Rather than stopping the pursuit of his dreams, Smith took the time to heal and prepare for his return. With his spirits high and back to training with the likes of Ricky Simon, and everyone else at American Top-Team in Portland, it looks like he made the right choice.
Bellator 226 is headlined with a heavyweight title fight between Cheick Kongo and current champion Ryan Bader. The event also features four bouts that start the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix at the SAP Center in San Jose, California September 7.