When Cole Smith first stepped into the ring for his first fight in Coquitlam, he had his hands wrapped by a guy named Jamie Siraj.
This Saturday evening, the Squamish MMA athlete will see Siraj again, but it’s for the pro bantamweight title with Battlefield Fight League. Siraj is currently on top but “The Cole Train” can put himself in the number one spot with a win.
Smith says it’s nothing personal, as he describes Siraj as a nice guy who just happens to be his next opponent. In other words, there’s no bad blood.
“A lot of people get a misconception about fighters,” he told The Squamish Chief.
The two will face off as one of the featured events as part of BFL’s Fight Night 46. It takes place at the Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam.
Smith has spent the better part of the last couple of years fighting in Thailand, where he says the sport has a different place in the culture. Smith turned pro there, and has run up a record of 12 wins with no losses.
His most memorable fight, though, was in the boxing ring in June where he upset Saddam Kietyongyuth, an ex-WBC boxing champ from Thailand.
“All I knew was this guy’s a power puncher. I had to move,” he says. “I have to say that’s my best fight.”
Coming in, his opponent had won 23 fights and lost only one, and with no record, Smith was not supposed to provide much of a battle.
“They brought him in to lose and he won,” says Kasey Smith, Cole’s brother and coach. "They offered us the fight and we took it."
For Smith’s MMA fighting, he has been training with Team Quest Thailand, which offers authentic muay thai, Brazilian jiu jitsu and MMA training. He lived near the gym and would ride his scooter through the streets to go train.
The atmosphere is a world away, as the fights in Thailand are marked by men smoking, little children running around and guys warming up in alleys – not sights one would expect to see back home.
Often, fights are set up quickly with little opportunity to do homework on opponents. At the same time, the dedication to the sport is unquestionable, says Smith.
“To go to Thailand and figh is every real fighter’s dream,” he says.
One factor that helped him make the move to Thailand is the support he has received. He credits his late uncle Mark Littke and his uncle’s company Hytracker for helping sponsor him, enabling him to start fighting as a professional.
“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have gone to Thailand,” he says.
Back in Canada, Smith trains at the Sound locally and spends time at Adam Ryan’s academy in Richmond. Typically, he trains twice a day, six days a week to get ready for fights.
Smith will not be the only local fighter on the card Saturday night, as Gwyn Berry, who grew up in Britannia Beach and also trains in Squamish at the Sound, will be squaring off against Mitch Burke in the amateur lightweight category. Berry is 2-0 right now and looking for a shot at the title.
“We got him into Battlefield and he dominated,” says Kasey.
Cole adds he is proud to see his friend gain confidence in the ring, even though Berry probably didn’t expect to be there when he started.
“I kind of tricked him into fighting and now he’s a fighter,” he says.
The fights begin at 6:15 p.m. For more information on this weekend’s BFL card, see battlefieldfl.com/bfl46.