Leslie Smith is suspicious about the timing of her failed UFC labor complaint, and Dana White and Colby Covington’s meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.
The Project Spearhead leader spoke with Kajan Johnson — who is also a member of Project Spearhead — and Shakiel Mahjouri on Saturday’s Pull No Punches podcast. Smith, 36, opens up about her failed lawsuit against the UFC following her controversial release.
“They are totally being not held accountable at all,” she exclaimed. “I need to get money together so I can put down our retainer so that I can get a breach of contract lawsuit against the UFC. Going the NLRB route, which really should’ve worked, man it really should have worked.”
“We filed charges with the NLRB with regent four. That office said, ‘yes, we find your charges to have merit. And they’re worth pursuing and we’re going to give the UFC one month to offer you a settlement and then we’re going to act as prosecutors.’ The two charges were that I was retaliated against and that we are misclassified and that we’re actually statutory employees,” Smith explained. “Even though Regent Four didn’t give me a verdict or an official decision saying, ‘yes we agree with you,’ they had a merit determination which means they thought my claims were legitimate enough to warrant further investigation. That was wonderful, that was a first victory, everything was great.
“But less than 12 hours later, the Washington office of the NLRB pulled that decision back and said they would have to advise on it,” she continued. “Over the next two months while they held onto it, that was the time period when Dana White and Colby Covington took pictures with the belt inside the Oval Office with Donald Trump — our current President — and it was also when Dana said they had a three-hour dinner after meeting in the Oval Office, and how they were going to make this short tribute video about how wonderful President Trump is. So those were all the things that happened in the two months when I was waiting to get the results.”
Smith has a hunch the timeline of the legal proceedings and the White House meeting were no coincidence.
“I have a very strong belief that a lot of strings were pulled,” she asserted. “Lucas Middlebrook, who has been my friend and lawyer throughout the whole process, he has requested a bunch of Freedom of Information acts, like a lawyer’s request. The ones that he has gotten back... he feels like they point to the string pulling as well.”
Smith is finally returning to in-cage competition after signing with Bellator. It took a while for the women’s bantamweight fighter to find a new home, but it was not for a lack of trying.
“I was looking for another place to fight, but it was tough,” she shared. “Some of the other promotions in Asia straight up said they were worried about Project Spearhead and they didn’t want me there.”
The fighter also opened up about how she plans to tackle union efforts while fighting for Bellator, what it was like going back to school, and more. Timestamps are below for the video above.
2:00 - How Leslie Smith signed with Bellator
4:45 - A union in Bellator?
7:10 - Could Brave Combat Federation have MMA’s first union?
13:05 - Court case with the UFC
18:12 - Was Project Spearhead discussed with Bellator
19:45 - Hobbies