Kajic, 34, vacated his newly-acquired middleweight title for a crack at the 175-pound strap, which was initially supposed to take place at this event.
“I was going to fight for the 175 strap for this one, so that’s why I agreed to give up my 185 belt, but we had a couple opponent changes. He (Jay Golshani) was trying to get me some higher-level guys with more experience so he could market the fight and justify making it for the belt,” said Kajic in an interview.
“In the end, I don’t care about belts. I wanted a belt, I got the belt to check it off. Now, I just want to fight as much as I can. Belt or no belt, I don’t need to get motivated to compete.”
In 19 professional fights, Kajic has seen it all, from quick finishes to all-out wars for 15 minutes.
On the other hand, Smith has yet to see the second round, having won or lost in the first round in all five of his professional fights.
Kajic said if this fight makes it into the later stages, his experience will play a major factor in the outcome.
“Deep waters are hell if you’ve never been there. Cardio is a mother f@$%er if you’ve never been there,” said Kajic.
“I want to keep that card in my back pocket, if necessary. Do I want to rely on that? Nope. I want to come in and come out quickly.”
In addition to his routine training at Universal MMA in North Vancouver, Kajic also made the trip down to Las Vegas to work on his ground game with Robert Drysdale, as well as spend some time training at Syndicate MMA.
Kajic said it was good to be able to work on all aspects of his game with some quality training partners and is looking forward to showcasing what he’s been working on.
“It was awesome. I got lots of different looks,” said Kajic.
“I got everything I wanted, exposed some holes, and showed myself I’m a world-class fighter in other aspects than just striking.”
Striker vs Striker
Much like Kajic, Smith, 29, also possesses a striking background, training primarily out of South Sound Martial Arts in Tacoma, WA.
But despite both he and Kajic favouring their striking, Smith said he’s been preparing for everything, physically and mentally.
“It’s MMA, so I’m not expecting it to only be stand-up,” said Smith in an interview.
“I’ll take whatever the best option is, but it could be a war. I’m ready for a 15-minute battle.”
While Smith does hold two quick knockouts as a professional, he said Kajic does present a stiffer challenge.
He said Kajic will be one of his toughest tests to date, and doesn’t expect it will be easy to rattle him early.
“I’m expecting a very well-composed striker,” said Smith.
“He seems very relaxed and very methodical when he’s in there.”
This will be the first time Smith fights outside of his hometown as a professional, with all five of his bouts having taken place under the CageSport banner.
But despite having to go into enemy territory for the first time, Smith said he’s up for the challenge and isn’t phased by the crowd.
“When I get in there, it’s just going to be me and him. The crowd doesn’t really affect me,” said Smith.
“We’re both fighters, and we’re both training and fighting for the same thing.”
“I’d like to thank Kru Ryan Simeon, Kru Srab, Josh Calvo, James Duras, Ron Pittman, and all my teammates for preparing me.”