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Following second UFC loss, Squamish’s Cole Smith talks perspective

“To compete in the UFC is a highlight. To get to this point is a dream come true.”

Squamish MMA fighter Cole (“The Cole Train”) Smith might have ultimately lost his UFC fight on Saturday, Sept. 5, to American Hunter Azure, but he’s managed to keep the results in perspective.

“Fighting in the best organization in the world, you can’t sulk on things too much,” Cole said. “You’re going to win, you’re going to lose. To compete in the UFC is a highlight. To get to this point is a dream come true.”

While Cole had some strong moments at the Las Vegas match, Azure — a former high school wrestling champion — won in a unanimous decision with a score of 29-28.

“I was fighting a tough guy; a four-time champion wrestler,” Smith said. “You’re only fighting the absolute best in the world at this point. There’s no easy fights.”

Locals gathered at Cork & Craft Taphouse to cheer on Smith on Saturday. - Cork & Craft Taphouse

In the first round, Azure clipped Smith. “He got a good shot, but I got up after that,” he recalled. “He used his wrestling a lot. He was very strong. He was hard to get up from.”

It wasn’t until the third round that Smith felt he got into his rhythm.

“I almost choked him out there in the third round, but he was a little too strong,” Smith added.

While he knew going in that Azure would be strong at wrestling, Smith said he didn’t tailor his training to the fight specifically. “I like to go in there and fight my fight as opposed to focusing on the other guy. I like to focus on what I can do instead of what he can do. That way, you perform a little better,” he said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith was no longer able to train for wrestling at Simon Fraser University like he had in the past.

“It’s hard to find a lot of wrestlers here,” he said.

But that wasn’t the only change caused by the ongoing pandemic. In order to travel to Las Vegas for the fight, Smith had to take a COVID-19 test before he left Canada then again when he arrived at his hotel.

“They test you right away then for 24 hours you quarantine in the hotel,” he said. “As soon as the 24 hours are up, you come back downstairs and test your temperature again. Basically, you can’t leave the hotel at all.”

After the fight, he also had to head back to his hotel before going straight home.

“I felt fine,” he said about the safety measures.

Now back at home in Squamish, he is in the midst of a 14-day quarantine.

“I don’t have too many options,” he said with a laugh when asked how he plans to spend his time. “Play Call of Duty. I have an infrared sauna, a whole room matted out so I can train. I can hit the bag here. There’s quite a few things here I can do. I set my house up pretty nicely, so I have a bit of a training facility.”

While he doesn’t have any fights on the horizon, he’s hoping to head back into the cage in December.

In the meantime, he’s grateful for local support from the new Cork and Craft Taphouse, which showed his fight—and he’s looking forward to the end of quarantine so he can visit Sunny Chibas again.

“I really appreciate the Cork and Craft Taphouse,” he said. “They made sure to show my fight. They invited Squamish in. I’ll be working with them in the future to show all my fights.”