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Joshua Smith embracing underdog role ahead of CFFC 108 title shot against Da'Mon Blackshear

Bantamweight title fight headlines Saturday's event, live on UFC Fight Pass.
joshua-smith

It may have taken him eight years as a professional to figure out the issue, but Joshua Smith believes he's finally peaking as a mixed martial artist.

"I think it's been more of a mental thing because I've always been a hard worker and the skills have always been there," Smith said. "It's just sometimes I feel like in big matches I put so much weight on my shoulders, or when I used to cut to '25, I put so much weight on my shoulders – and like whenever I just have fun with it, I do so much better. I perform so much better. Right now I'm just enjoying the moment and really enjoying the fight."

Smith currently stands at 3-1 in his past four fights, including a CFFC 89 win over the always dangerous Charalampos Grigoriou. Smith was hoping to add to that total in March, but scheduled opponent Brandon Lewis, a Dana White's Contender Series vet, was unable to make weight, and the bout was ultimately scrapped.

"He got lucky," Smith said. "He got so lucky. I've grown up in the wrestling mentality, and I just think it's beyond me that a kid can come in close to five pounds overweight in your hometown in Florida, where you could stand outside and sweat, so I don't know. I mean, call it what you want, but I went up to him, and I was like, 'Hey man, you've got two hours. You can lose something,' and he looked at me and started chugging his water, and he was like, 'What?' I was like, 'Nah, you're good. It's all right. It's OK. You don't want to fight.'"

With that fight canceled, Smith immediately began to look for his next opportunity. With CFFC officials viewing the planned contest as an important one in determining a future contender for reigning bantamweight champion Da'Mon Blackshear, Smith was told his next bout would be for the title.

Smith had no hesitation in taking the fight against a man seven years his junior.

"I was just looking forward to whatever was next, and it just so happens Mr. Blackshear is next," Smith said. "I think it's going to be a really good fight. I respect him as an aspect of these young kids grinding. Obviously I've seen him fight. I've seen him come up. He's an impressive kid. He's solid, so I knew I had to put in that work this camp."

Smith (11-7) and Blackshear (11-4) now clash in the main event of Saturday's CFFC 108 event, which streams live on UFC Fight Pass from Parx Casino in Bensalem, Penn.

A victory would be the biggest of Smith's career to date, and he realizes holding the CFFC title would certainly mean wonders for his career. But he's also not putting too much stock into what comes after Saturday. It's focusing on things outside of fights that has caused him to stumble in previous efforts.

"The belt gets attention, but in the end, that's like one of those things that are on my shoulders that I was talking about earlier," Smith said. "I'm not pretending. Like, I talk about it and I think about it, and I've thought about my speech for after I win, but I try not to dwell on it. I see it just as another five-round fight, and at American Top Team, we fight five rounds every day, so it's just me kicking back and enjoying the moment, having fun up there, doing what I do best."

Smith knows there are plenty of people that don't believe he has what it takes to down Blackshear, and that's just fine with him. He's been the underdog before, and he'll likely be counted out again in the future, regardless of what happens on Saturday. But the man known as "That Guy" has different ideas of what's going down at CFFC 108.

"I look forward to putting on a show," Smith said. "Don't blink."

This story first published at CFFC.tv.