One month after a third-straight defeat, the only active-duty service member in the world's top mixed martial arts circuit has been released from his contract.
Staff Sgt. Colton Smith, who lost via submission to Carlos Diego Ferreira on a June 28 card in San Antonio, has been cut by the UFC, a spokeswoman confirmed Monday via email. News of his release, along with that of four other fighters, had been reported earlier that day by several MMAoutlets.
"I knew it was coming," Smith told Army Times. "I talked with the UFC after my last fight. They know I have the potential, I just wasn't able to put it together when it came fight time."
Smith said he was disheartened by his inability to "showcase how far I've come" during the June 28 fight, but he also is looking forward to the future.
"It's just a bump in the road for me," Smith said. "Luckily, I'm in the young stage of my career. I'm only 26. I have a good future ahead of me, and I'm going to go back to the drawing board. I'll be back."
Smith, an active-duty Ranger-tabbed senior combatives instructor at Fort Hood, Texas, earned his spot in the UFC with his only victory in the promotion — a December 2012 unanimous decision over Mike Ricci in the finals of the 16th season of "The Ultimate Fighter," the UFC's reality competition show.
He struggled in his next three appearances, stopped in the third round by Robert Whittaker in May 2013 and submitted in the second round by Michael Chiesa six months later — during a UFC "Fight for the Troops" card at Fort Campbell, Kentucky — before his loss to Ferreira.
Smith (1-3 UFC, 3-4 overall) said before the Ferreira fight that he realized it could be a win-or-go-home affair, and said afterward that "it's inevitable if you lose enough fights or have a poor performance, then the UFC can cut you. There's a lot of hungry guys that want to come in and fill those spots."
Smith, who has been selected for promotion to sergeant first class, said he is focused on his military career and on continuing to train and coach fellow soldiers at Fort Hood.
This includes tackling the air assault and Pathfinder schools and the Senior Leader Course, "not just for myself, but to bring the experience back to the combatives school and back to the soldiers at Fort Hood," he said.
As for mixed martial arts, Smith said he'll continue to train.
"I'll definitely bounce back," he said.