After disappointing performance at UFC Vegas 83, what’s next for Anthony Smith?

UFC Anthony Smith
May 13, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Anthony Smith (red gloves) prepares to fight Johnny Walker (blue gloves) in a light heavyweight bout during UFC Fight Night at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 83, we saw a big time matchup in the light heavyweight division with a top ten ranking on the line. Former light heavyweight title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (37-19) took on surging contender Khalil Rountree (13-5).

Lionheart took the fight on short notice after Rountree’s original opponent fell out. Smith said that he was really confident in the matchup and thought that he’d be able to break Rountree. With a win, Smith would’ve won two fights in a row and would’ve been inching closer to a title shot.

Before the fight, Smith told the broadcasters that he figured he’d have to eat some shots early on and he did. However, he thought by continuously coming forward he would eventually tire out and break down Rountree. Unfortunately, Rountree never broke on Saturday night.

He still looked incredibly fresh in the third round and cracked Smith with a huge combination that sent Lionheart crashing to the canvas. It was bad enough where the referee stopped it immediately with no additional shots and Smith took the TKO loss at UFC Vegas 83.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 83?

This was a tough loss for Smith who like I mentioned, was trying to make his way back up towards a title shot. He’s had some words with Alex Pereira and with this win plus one more, he could’ve found himself in a title shot. Now, he’s outside the top ten and the future looks a little fuzzy for him.

That said, what should he and the UFC do in regards to his next fight? In looking at the rankings, I actually really liked the idea of him and Dominick Reyes fighting. Reyes and Smith is a much better fight for Reyes than the one Reyes currently has scheduled against Carlos Ulberg. Unfortunately, with that fight booked, it’s not an option for Smith.

In looking at the rest of the division, a ranked opponent that could make sense is Volkan Oezdemir. If we want to go outside the rankings, I wouldn’t mind watching a bout with Smith and Ion Cutelaba. There are some options out there and I don’t see Smith being done yet in terms of his UFC fighting career.