By Mike Heck, My MMA News

After spending two weeks in the Middle East visiting the brave men and women of the US military, Louis Smolka got back to the states and hugged his kid a little bit tighter.

Smolka joined fellow UFC fighters Carla Esparza, Alex Hernandez and Vinc Pichel, along with Bellator fighter and former Marine Shane Krutchen, for the “Fighters for Freedom” tour that capped off a few days after Thanksgiving. The fighters visited with the troops and spent a lot of time grappling with them to take their minds off of being away from their loved ones, even for just a few hours at a time.

“Da Last Samurai” talked about how he got involved with the tour, what the experience was like overall, all of the different activities that the fighters were able to take part in while they were in the Middle East, his favorite day that stuck out to him, a swimming competition against a commander that did not go very well for him, Jose Aldo’s move to 135 pounds, the photos of the former featherweight champion that have been seen on social media, and much more.

Smolka also discussed his biggest takeaway from the experience and his appreciation for the soldiers that are making huge sacrifices for our freedom.

“It was kind of crazy seeing the sacrifices people have to make,” Louis Smolka told MyMMANews.com. “I felt like I could, honestly, do the military lifestyle if it wasn’t for having a family. I could do all that stuff, but being away from your family, it made me feel sad. All of these people over there, they have kids back home and they’re not gonna see them for like nine months, ten months, a year, however long their deployment is. I was only away from my kid for two weeks and I was already going through it over there. I can’t even imagine what these guys do. They sacrifice so much in order to protect us and so we can do what we want to do. I felt really good to be back but at the same time I just felt so sad. I just thought, ‘f**k man, I wish I could help you more in some way.’”

In addition, Smolka gave an update on when he would like to return to the Octagon coming off of his fantastic first round finish of Ryan MacDonald at UFC Vancouver in September. Smolka would like to lean towards the side of positive history, unless a big, short notice opportunity came his way.

“I feel great but I’d like to return in the summer if I get to pick and choose,” Smolka said. “Statistically, I do better in the summer. If you look at my record, I have a lot of wins in the summer and winter, not as as good. I don’t like the winter, I don’t like the cold. I don’t like training in the cold, I don’t like f****n cutting weight in the cold, fighting in the cold. I just don’t like the cold. If I got a short notice fight that I liked, I would take it. But if I had to pick and choose, I’d like to wait until summer, maybe May or late April at the earliest.

“If it’s a big fight and they need someone to step in on short notice, I would do it. If this weekend [for UFC 245], they said we need someone to fight Aldo, Moraes is hurt, I’d say, ‘all right, f**k, I can do it’ I’m like one state over. I could drive over and probably make the weight.”

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