Incorporating elements of boxing, wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, muay Thai, taekwondo, judo, and other fighting styles, mixed martial arts has quickly grown in popularity over the last several years with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) being the sport's most prominent organization.
After beginning his training in September at Moody's Mixed Martial Arts in Columbia, Smith has competed in four amateur MMA events over the last five months in the 185 pound weight class and has posted a perfect 4-0 record.
"Mixed martial arts was the only thing I could do athletically at my age. It's my kind of sport too because I like the contact. I started training for boxing because every MMA fight starts in the standing position," said Smith.
A 2006 graduate of Marshall County High School, Smith is not a newcomer to contact sports and played football all four years at MCHS while also being a member of the Tiger wrestling team as a sophomore.
"Football and wrestling helped me with my strength and conditioning. There's a lot more contact in boxing and MMA fights than there is in football though. You also need to have a lot more knowledge about your technique than you do in football. Being strong helps, but proper technique beats strength," said Smith. "If you fail, it's your own fault. When you cut corners in training you cheat yourself. I've got to give a lot of credit to coach Smedley and coach Moody for making me do things right."
Smith usually trains with Smedley Monday through Friday while attending classes twice a week at Moody's Martial Arts as well. Along with hitting the speed bag and heavy bag, Smith does agility drills to improve his footwork in the ring and runs up to 32 miles over the course of the week in order to stay in fighting shape.
Having trained boxers for the last 35 years, which included 1981 WBA lightweight champion Sean O'Grady and 1997 women's featherweight champ Beverly Szymanski, Smedley credit's Smith early fighting success to his physical strength and superior conditioning.
"Brent's got a natural strength that you can't build with barbells and is in pretty good shape. He's got good punching power as well and is getting more confidence in his power," said Smedley. "He's doing well so far and has learned to box a little bit. There are some good fighters around here and he's faced some pretty decent competition."
Smith plans to turn pro in both sports and plans to compete in at least 20 more MMA fights and boxing matches over the next 12 months. He currently fights under USA Boxing and the International Sports Karate Association for his MMA matches.
After fighting in places such as Columbia, Collinwood, Hohenwald, Smyrna, and Chattanooga, Smith is hoping to bring a MMA event to Lewisburg in May, but is still looking for a suitable location to hold it.