What can you say about Leslie Smith?

As a personality, she is fun and has a charming charisma about her. As a fighter, she is all business, brings on exciting fights and gives the women’s side of the sport a cult hero.

The normal bantamweight now makes the journey down to flyweight, where she looks to make a title run in the Invicta promotion. This is done on the heels of a successful number of fights in the 135-pound division and a possible call from the UFC. However, is she jumping in line with the announcement that her 125-pound debut against Jennifer Maia will earn the winner a title shot?

Detractors will say yes, as she hasn’t even fought in the division yet and is coming off a loss, albeit exciting and controversial, against Sarah Kaufman. Perhaps they are right. Maybe Smith should have worked her way up from the bottom of the division to earn her potential title shot. That being said, all of the other factors must be considered.

First and foremost, Invicta’s flyweight division has the smallest roster of the divisions featured by the promotion. Most of the fights come in the strawweight, bantamweight and atomweight divisions, so there isn’t a swarm of contenders in line to challenge Barb Honchak for the title she recently captured. In fact, the only other women with wins in the Invicta promotion that are 125ers are Vanessa Porto (who just challenged for the title), Sarah Maloy, Jocelyn Lybarger and Maia. Maloy and Lybarger haven’t had big enough wins to warrant a title shot yet, so the obvious No.1 contender would be Maia, right?

Wrong.

Maia’s one fight in the company was against Zoila Gurgel, but a potential warm-up bout with Smith is too good to pass up. Maia is not yet nearly as marketable as Smith, whose style and personality have garnered great attention to her in this sport. And Smith’s ability to draw the best out of her opponents creates the potential to significantly boost Maia’s stock heading into a title fight, assuming Maia can overcome the former 135er.

Add in the fact that Smith’s fight with Kaufman was close, controversial and probably should have gone her way, and you have an obvious contender in her new division. Had Smith come away with that victory, she would probably be in the UFC or be close to the top of Invicta’s 135-pound division. That’s why the consideration she’s getting for this title shot is not out of left field.

Smith is dangerous and is a threat to Honchak’s title reign. Her striking, warrior’s mentality and exciting style have taken one of the best bantamweights to the brink. That is why Smith “jumping in line” in the flyweight division should be accepted, understood and enjoyed when she fights Maia at Invicta FC 6.

Photo: Leslie Smith (R) delivers a kick (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.