Louis Smolka had an excellent performance against Paddy Holohan on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 76, scoring a submission win in the second round to silence a raucous and partisan crowd in Dublin. Smolka was the enemy coming in, having beaten another Dublin native in Neil Seery in his most recent fight, and he expected an even more negative response than he w0und up receiving from the Irish fans.
“With passionate fans, you have to expect a lot of backlash and things like that,” Smolka said at the post-fight press conference (via MMAJunkie.com). “I was kind of expecting it. It wasn’t that bad, to be honest. It’s something I was prepared for.
“Of course, someone’s going to get mad if you beat their hometown boy. It would be the same if we fought in Hawaii and he beat me. Hawaii would go nuts; they’d be throwing s*** and screaming. It would be pandemonium. It’s just part of the sport – you go with it.”
Smolka’s now won three straight fights in the UFC’s flyweight division and four of five overall in the UFC, but he knows he needs to pick up more significant wins to start making a run. He thinks he deserves that step up in competition, and believes he can emerge as a title challenger with a couple of key wins.
“I need to beat ranked guys,” Smolka said. “I haven’t gotten a win inside the top-10 yet, or even the top-15, so that’s something that really needs to happen. I’m pushing for a step up in competition right now.
“I think I’ve earned that, and if I can get another couple of wins, hopefully I can challenge [Demetrious Johnson].”
Penick’s Analysis: Smolka looked great against Holohan, and he continues to show improvement in all aspects of the game. His ground defense and offense are both great, and his striking is far from a weakness. It’s a good, well-rounded combination, and he’s going to be competitive with most in the division. Now, I don’t know that it means he’s anywhere near title hopes right now, but if he can prove he’s capable of beating top 10 to 15 guys, he’ll have the opportunity to work his way there. This division needs some new blood at the top end, and it would be great to see the young Hawaiian emerge as a legitimate contender.
[Photo (c) Per Haljestam via USA Today Sports]