“It was like, ‘Is this still for me?’” he admits. “I was like, ‘Damn, I lost my fight, ruptured my Achilles, they’re talking about six to eight months, a year at the latest just to make sure everything’s good, and it’s that time of just sitting there, not able to walk, not being able to do things, and then my body’s tightening up because I can’t stretch a certain way or move a certain way. And me not being able to physically move, it was driving me crazy. But after a couple months, I got the feeling to beat people up again. (Laughs) It never left, but depression sets in a little bit with all this stuff happening. But I stayed focused.”
Once dealing with the physical pain of the injury and the emotional pain of the loss of his sister subsided, or at least got manageable, Smith had to deal with the aftermath of a fight no one expected him to lose, and how he was going to move on from that.
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“For me, there’s something about losing; it feels like it eats at my soul,” said Smith. “And then knowing that I lost to somebody that I was close to, it changed my mindset. If I would have won, I don’t know where my mindset would be. But my mindset now, it’s business. I’m glad and happy he (Worthy) is in the UFC, but I still feel some type of way. (Laughs) And I’m not blaming him because he came to do what he needed to do. But me, I wasn’t mentally there to truly hurt a friend, somebody that I was cool with. And that was my hang-up. So kudos to him, congratulations, but what he has done is make it bad for everybody. So if I know you, don’t know you, we had drinks together, chilled together, and now we’ve got to fight, I’m taking you out. That’s how I feel because when I look at that fight, it burns me. I was thinking too much. Because I was cool with him, it made me think too much. And again, he won, I’m taking nothing away from him because I learned so much from it. I feel like I went over a hurdle that I didn’t think I needed to get over and I’m over that hurdle.”
All he needed then was a fight, and while expectations are high for his return in Las Vegas, where he earned a UFC contract with a first-round finish of Joe Lowry on season two of Dana White’s Contender Series in 2018, Smith isn’t concerned with reintroducing himself to the masses; he’s going to the Apex for one reason only.