Just 14 months removed from being considered as a future title contender in the Flyweight division, Kapolei’s Louis Smolka (11-4) will enter UFC 219 in a must win situation this weekend.
26-year-old nicknamed ‘The Last Samurai’ was 10-1 and ranked sixth in the 125-pound division last October. It was believed by many to best just a win or two away from a shot at the legendary Demetrious Johnson and the UFC title. However, three consecutive losses later and Smolka has tumbled seven spots in the rankings and admits that there is a must win vibe entering his matchup with 12-1 Matheus Nicolau in Las Vegas.
Desperate times calls for desperate measures according to Smolka, who has gone alcohol free for his training camp which has led to increased energy ahead of his bout.
“This camp has been pretty good. I’ve gotten in control of my drinking a lot, you know. I had been screwing around a lot, but I’ve gotten myself together. I feel the best I’ve felt in a really long time. I was kind of stubborn about it for a while. I kind of used drinking as a way to not really think about fighting, because it is stressful. I kind of used it as a mental tool for a little while, but it’s impacting my body too much physically at this point so we had to get rid of it,” Smolka told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello.
One of 12 active fighters in the UFC from Hawaii, Smolka says he can feel the pressure ahead of Saturday’s fight, acknowledging that another loss could create question marks regarding his future in the organization.
“We’re going to see if I still got it or not. If I’m still able to put on good performances. If I’m still able to compete. So I’m scared, I’m not going to lie, I’m scared, because there is a lot riding on it. But I feel confident. I mean, you just have to be honest with yourself. You can’t be delusional, you have to know what your tools are, you have to know what your skill sets are and you can’t be reckless. You go in there acting like you’re not scared, swinging with your chin out and your hands down, you might get caught and you might go to sleep. A lot of times it’s that lack of fear that can kind of force you to lose a fight you know?” Smolka said.
Nicolau, who is a training partner of UFC featherweight contender Frankie Edgar will enter the fight as a -305 favorite.
Smolka vs. Nicolau will open the UFC 219 Prelims card on Saturday at 3:00pm HST on FS1.