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Squamish stands with MMA fighter Cole Smith

Hometown audience expresses support despite Smith's first professional UFC loss
Local fans at That Irish Place watch Cole Smith's fight Saturday afternoon.

Despite the loss, Squamish fans expressed solidarity for a local athlete competing at the highest level of mixed-martial arts.

Almost all the tables were filled at That Irish Place as locals gathered to watch Squamish fighter Cole β€˜The Cole Train' Smith take on American opponent Miles Johns at Rogers Arena on Sept. 14.

Smith lost via a split decision. It was a match that pitted two undefeated fighters against each other. This fight is Smith's first professional loss.

"I think Cole tried his best and he ended with all he had β€” it was a tough opponent," said Nitin Nand, who was watching the fight.

"As long as he gave his hardest, that's all that matters."

Before the fight, the odds favoured Johns β€” every betting service listed on pegged him as the favoured fighter.

However, for a substantial portion of the fight, Smith was holding his own.

Smith opened up with a choke attempt, wrapping around Johns from behind while the opposing fighter was standing.

Smith continued to grapple with the U.S. fighter throughout much of the match.

Previously, Smith told The Chief that he'd been working on his chokeholds, which were on full display.

Much of the first two rounds was a grappling battle between the two fighters, with Smith often pinning his opponent to the cage.

However, in the third round, Johns felled Smith with a hard punch. Smith managed to stand up again, but Johns pursued him, landing a number of blows.

At least one person thought that may have been the turning point.

"I believe Cole had that fight until the third round when he stood up and exchanged his punches β€” that was his big mistake," said Kevin Kendall, who was in the audience at the Squamish pub.

"Once he got popped there, he never got control of the fight again. But he did have it up until that point."

Kendall also expressed his support for Smith.

"To have a fighter in the UFC is amazing," he said. "We're very proud of him."

The Sept. 14 fight marked the second time Smith has fought in the UFC. Months ago, he took down Mitch Gagnon in Ottawa.