Natchez native to have first MMA fight

Published 12:01 am Thursday, June 25, 2015

NATCHEZ — For the first time in his mixed martial arts career, Johnny Smith will step into the cage with an opponent.

Smith, who graduated from Adams County Christian School in 2012, will fight Steven Powell this weekend in Biloxi at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center.

“I’m nervous but excited at the same time,” Smith said. “From what I’ve heard, it is the purest adrenaline rush in all of sports. I’ve been an athlete my whole life, and this is just something different. It is the first sport I’ve done where it is just me. In the cage, it is just you and the other guy.”

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Smith said he has been doing MMA on and off for about a year and a half, but once he found out about this fight, he buckled down.

“I’ve been training for a while,” he said. “I found out about this fight about 10 weeks ago.”

Smith said his style is a mix of kickboxing and jiu-jitsu.

“Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is ground fighting derived from judo ground fighting, and is one of the most commonly used types of wrestling,” Smith said. “It is a lot of submissions. In regular Greco-Roman wrestling, there are no submissions, you just pin the guy, but in jiu-jitsu there is no pinning, it is all submissions, like an armbar or a choke.”

Initially, the Natchez native got into the sport just to stay in shape. However, his passion has developed into more than just that.

“Everybody kind of laughed at me in Natchez asking why I’m doing this,” Smith said. “When I first started, I was just doing it to stay in shape after I got done playing soccer. I just did it for me. But then I decided, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to fight and see where it goes.”

Smith is hoping things go in his favor, but he has a mystery to solve when he gets in the cage.

“I really don’t know much about (Powell),” Smith said. “I believe he is a stand up guy, but I don’t know much about him.”

Ultimately, Smith said a win would be the perfect way to start his career.

“It would be great to get a win in my first fight,” he said.