Leslie Smith is currently ranked No. 4 in the women's featherweight division of Bellator MMA. The former UFC bantamweight is set to face 145-lbs champion Cris Cyborg next. The bout is scheduled to headline the Bellator 259 pay-per-view on May 21.
The forthcoming title fight will be Leslie Smith's second encounter against Cris Cyborg. Previously, Smith and Cyborg fought at UFC 198 in 2016. The catchweight (140-lbs) bout ended with Cyborg getting her hand raised after she TKO'd Leslie Smith in the very first round.
Following her loss to Cyborg, Leslie Smith faced Irene Aldana at UFC on FOX 22. Smith won the fight via a unanimous decision and bagged the Fight of the Night bonus as well.
Seven months later, 'The Peacemaker' fought Amanda Lemos at UFC Fight Night 113 and secured victory via TKO. This was Smith's last outing in the Octagon as she was released by the UFC in 2018.
During her stint at the biggest MMA promotion, Leslie Smith fought opponents of the highest caliber including the likes of Jessica Eye (UFC 180) and Sarah Kaufman (The Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale).
Smith was supposed to fight Aspen Ladd in 2018 but the up-and-comer reportedly missed weight by 1.8 pounds and the fight was called off by the promotion.
When Leslie Smith got signed by Bellator MMA
Leslie Smith made her Bellator MMA debut in 2019 against Sinead Kavanagh. The fight was ultimately ruled in Smith's favor on the judges' scorecards, marking her first promotional win. Smith is currently 2-2 in Bellator and has worked her way up to the title shot once again.
Speaking at the Bellator 255 presser, Leslie Smith elaborated on her gameplan for defeating Cris Cyborg in the upcoming rematch:
"Defense was not my thing before I fought her. It was an incredible learning experience. No one after that has affected me with a power like that. I have been training since then to be able to control the distance and timing."
"I'm not scared... I've been wanting this fight; I asked for this fight... I have been already working on all aspects of my MMA game and I'm beyond excited about this opportunity... this is the goal... to get the title in the premiere organization...", said Leslie Smith.
With the UFC doing away with the women's featherweight division, Bellator has become the premiere organization for 145-lbs female fighters.