At Destiny Fight Night 5 on June 23, Louis Smolka made the walk to the cage in his home state of Hawaii for the first time since his professional debut in 2012 when he took on Shane Pacarro whom he defeated by knockout. Back then, “Da Last Samurai” Smolka was pursuing his dream, dreaming of fighting in the UFC. This time, he was fighting as a UFC veteran hoping to put on a performance that was impressive enough to earn a shot back with the big show and having learned how tough this sport can really be.
Smolka’s hometown fight went how he could have hoped it would have gone. He took control of the fight against Tycenn Lynn from the very beginning. He went from stand up to grappling seamlessly landing an impressive amount of ground and pound each time he took Lynn down. Then in the third round, Smolka was able to submit Lynn with a submission.
“I did what I had to do, I felt like I fought a great fight, I controlled him where I wanted to, I used my strengths well and I ended up coming out with a victory and a finish so I’m happy.”
The release from the UFC has brought many changes to the life of Smolka, for one, he decided to move to California to be closer to his team, Team Oyama. It’s also been a challenge to be paid as regional fighters do, he’s had to start teaching and he is also fighting in front of smaller crowds.
“The pay is definitely very different, it freaking sucks. I mean I’m some what used to it, this is the first time I’m doing it with my daughter, it’s a challenge, I gotta do it the best I can. Everything is a little harder out here, the shows are smaller, the crowd is smaller, you gotta work harder for less money. It’s rough.”
Looking back, he believes he took the chance he was given in the UFC for granted.
“I took the opportunity for granted for a while, like it was just whatever to me, it would always be there. Coming out here seeing how hard, seeing so many people work for it, just the level of competition. There are so many people working so hard from so many martial arts backgrounds and competitive sports backgrounds. It’s eye opening. I kinda feel like oh shit, I f*cked up. I was way too lazy for a while, I need to get it together. Not to say I didn’t work hard, but I definitely could’ve been doing better and should’ve done better.”
And if or when Smolka returns to the UFC, the opportunity will not be taken for granted.
“A lot differently.”
A big part of changing his lifestyle has been giving up drinking. Smolka has recently opened up about going to practice hungover and how it has affected his training and performances in the cage. However, he said he hasn’t had a sip of alcohol in quite a while.
“Since the second or third week of January, I haven’t had a drink at all. It’s honestly a huge difference, waking up not hungover or sore or having a headache.”
Initially, Smolka was told that if he won two fights he’d be back in the UFC, but he hasn’t gotten the call since he picked up his last two wins. Smolka did get a chance to speak with Dana who reiterated that he hasn’t been forgotten about.
“Dana told me that he’s going to try and pick me up short notice if nobody else can do it.”
“I talked to Dana when I first got out of here, two months ago.”
“Right when I moved out here I went to the Contender Series. One of the Hawaii boys was fighting, so I went out there to watch. I was kinda screwing around, everybody’s like, “Louis what are you doing here?” and I was like I’m here to beg Dana for my job back, I got a whole presentation I’m going to do and stuff. I honestly did have a little sales pitch I was going to give him. And I ended up saying it to one of the tech people and they were like “oh are you serious? You want to talk to him? We’ll get you a meeting.” They got me a meeting with Dana. I got to talk with him for a little bit. He asked me how I was doing, if I quit drinking and if I had fought. I’m on their list, they want to pick me back up, I need money in the meantime.”
Another option for Smolka is Bellator Hawaii. Bellator is having their first show on the island and he is talking about it.
“We’re talking about it. I’ve heard a few things here and there but nothing too concrete. I mean It’s an option, I’d love to do it, I’d love to talk with them and sit down and see exactly what they’d want to do with me and what exactly the contract would look like but I’d be down.”
In terms of what who Smolka would prefer to fight for, it doesn’t truly matter to him right now. He describes the UFC as home to him as he has had more fights for them than outside of the octagon, but for now, he is more concerned with paying his bills.
“Honestly, I don’t care, I’ll go to whoever pays me more.”
What is next can’t be too much of a concern for Smolka as he has a fight coming up on October 20 for the CXF flyweight title. He was initially supposed to fight fellow UFC veteran Jared Papzirian, but Papazirian had to pull out and now he will face Kyle Estrada. The short notice change of opponent doesn’t bother the Hawaiian fighter at all.
“It’s a month so it’s not a big deal. It’s not like a matter of hours.”
Smolka believes his opponent is a former collegiate wrestler who has a good record and also likes to bang. But, Smolka doesn’t plan on letting Estrada get in his way of a return to a big show.
“I’m going to try and f*ck this dude up man, I’m just being honest with you. I’m trying to get back to the UFC, I need to make money to get my career back to where it’s supposed to be, to set up a future for myself. I need to go back to the UFC and I’m going to try and f*ck up this guy to do it.”
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