Jordan Smith knows that many have picked Andrey Koreshkov to walk through the Bellator Fighting Championships' Season 7 welterweight tournament. He just doesn't agree with the assessment.
A 21-fight veteran, Smith believes he can use his experience advantage to defy the bookmakers on Friday night and send Koreshkov packing in their quarterfinal matchup at Bellator 74, which emanates from Caesars Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., and airs on MTV2.
“I've always felt like I've performed better as an underdog, so when I see people talking on websites about how I'm supposed to lose to Andrey Koreshkov, that's fine with me,” Smith recently told Sherdog.com. “If people have only seen my last fight, I could understand that, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't make much sense. I have more experience. I've fought and beat better guys than he has. I'm morewell rounded, and I'm smarter than he is.”
Smith's most recent outing came on March 30 against David Rickels, who promptly spoiled the 27-year-old's Bellator debut by knocking him cold in the Season 6 quarterfinals. Though Rickels turned out Smith's lights in just 22 seconds, Smith believes the setback has taught him a valuable lesson about risk versus reward in the cage.
“If you catch me with something, it makes me angry and it makes me want to hurt you. That's just how I was wired,” said Smith. “I just need to be smart about it. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm not going to be in wars anymore. Most of the time when me and my opponent start exchanging punches, that's when I win.
“At the same time, it's kind of like rolling the dice, because whoever catches the other guy first is all that matters,” he continued. “In my last fight against David Rickels, my hook just missed his chin right before his hit me right on the button. It's a coin toss when you're exchanging with guys at this level. That's not how I need to fight. I'm better than that. I need to fight smarter, and that's the plan in this tournament.”
Known for his versatile standup attack, Koreshkov has thus far notched seven knockout victories among his 10 career finishes. An apprentice to Bellator middleweight title contender Alexander Shlemenko, the unbeaten 23-year-old has proved dangerous with a number of unconventional attacks, an aspect of the bout for which Smith says he is well prepared.
Despite his new outlook on going toe-to-toe, Smith still plans to pressure Koreshkov as a means of disrupting the Russian's offense and putting him on his heels.
“It's not that I'm going to be overly cautious in this fight, I just can't fight stupid angry. I think I'm way better than him at the wrestling and jiu-jitsu aspects of the sport, and that's something I'll be looking to exploit on fight night,” said Smith. “He doesn't like to be pressured, and he likes to keep his distance. Guys who have fought him before got intimidated by his unorthodox kicks and all the fancy s--t he likes to do, but I plan on getting in his face, making him as uncomfortable as possible and hurting him.”