Smith talked, at length about the process he's been going through since his latest loss to Khalil Rountree in December.
“For anybody that’s listening, if you’ve texted me or reached out and I haven’t responded, it’s not you, it’s me,” he said on the Believe You Mepodcast. “I’m just in a weird place and sometimes you just have to unplug and I really threw myself into just being with my family. Sometimes you have to sit back and you’ve got to reevaluate and just kind of see where you are, what do you want, where do you want to go, what do you want to do, because it was a pretty dark place there for a while.”
Smith stepped in on short notice to fight Rountree after Azamat Murzakanov pulled out of the event. He was coming off a win over Ryan Spann at UFC Singapore in August.
Before that, he lost back-to-back appearances versus Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker.
“I don’t want to be the guy that has people telling you that you need to leave,” Smith said. “I’d like to go out on my own terms and I don’t want to be forced out. Those questions and those doubts come in, like, ‘Do I belong here? Why am I still doing this?’ Am I doing this because it’s all I know? Because I don’t need the money. I don’t need to take unnecessary damage. I don’t need to get knocked out for no reason. The money is nice and the paychecks are cool and the adrenaline rush that you get from being in there is awesome, but am I just doing this because I don’t know anything else? It’s all I know, it’s all I’ve done my whole adult life. I just kind of remove myself from everything and just cut away from all the outside input and just try to figure out what do I really want. Why am I still doing this? Do I still want to fight because I like fighting or is it just because it’s familiar?"
After the Walker loss many fans had wondered if he might retire and Smith said when he does leave the sport he probably won't make a proclamation, he'll just fade away.
“I think I came to the conclusion that I still like fighting and I still want to do it. There’s some things that need to change though," he said. "Not just in my game and style. I had a conversation with Glover [Teixeira] that I think really helped a lot. Just as we age, you have to change some things. It’s not that you have to quit fighting, it’s not like, ‘I’m not as good here, I’ve not progressed here,’ but there’s some things that you’re already good at that you can continue to really shape your game around and just change it a little bit. I also think maybe I need to stop being so focused on the end goal so much. Maybe I just need to take it one at a time and just face whatever challenge is in front of me and stop—not that I’m looking past people or looking too far ahead—but everything I have wrapped into this fighting thing is about the title. Maybe when I stop being so concerned about the title, maybe I can fully focus on what’s in front of me.”