In the end, it just made sense.
Gilbert Smith will get that last chance to fight in front of family and friends before leaving his gloves in the cage.
On Wednesday, Smith tweeted he would be fighting at LFA 22 at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield on Sept. 8 in his retirement fight.
“It came down to the date, the money and the opponent. And to be honest those factors weren’t even real factors,” Smith, 35, told The Gazette on Thursday. “They offered me money, and I said, yeah, whatever. They offered me an opponent, and I said, yeah, cool. They told me the date, and I said, yeah, let’s do it.
“It was probably the easiest contractual negotiation anybody could ask for.”
Smith (12-6), the former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion before RFA and Legacy Fighting Alliance unified, will fight Andrew Kapel (11-6) of Minnesota in a catch-weight bout. Smith wanted to fight at the welterweight limit of 170 pounds, but Kapel was worried about making that limit. So the two will fight at 180.
“It does take some stress off that I don’t have to cut that last 10 pounds,” Smith said. “I’m not exactly totally mad about that part.”
Undefeated Ian Heinisch (8-0), a Ponderosa High graduate and two-time state wrestling champion, will headline the card, taking on Markus Perez Echeimberg (8-0) of Brazil, according to MMAJunkie.com.
Smith retiring in Colorado on a sizable card almost felt like it had to happen to him.
“It was one of those situations where it just made sense,” he said. “I’m their former champion. I’m coming off a big show with a decent performance. And I wanted to retire. In what world wouldn’t they do it.”
Smith has fought across the United States and in Canada. He twice appeared on the UFC reality series “The Ultimate Fighter,” including leaving his gloves in the cage after his last loss on the show earlier this season, signifying his retirement.
But he wanted one more fight to be able to leave the cage with his coaches and his family in attendance.
He also doesn’t care how the ending is, as long as his arm is the one that’s raised.
“I don’t care how I win,” he said. “Hell, maybe even going three rounds would be fun for me. This is the last time I’ll be in the cage, maybe I want to maximize the time.”
He will continue to train and coach fighters at his Colorado Springs gym, Victory MMA and Hustle Hard Boxing, even though coaching can be tougher than fighting sometimes.
“It can be a mental strain on you and you don’t even get to punch anybody,” Smith laughed.
“… I love going out there competing and I love going out there and helping others compete.”
He doesn’t expect to be nervous as he enters the cage for the final time. He’s just hoping he’ll have plenty of backing.
“This is my last one, man,” Smith said. “I’ve been competing for Colorado Springs for a long time. I understand it’s an hour-and-a-half drive up, but I’d love to have as many people from Colorado Springs come up there. I want to throw a real big party and enjoy the night.”