This past Saturday at UFC Charlotte, we saw a light heavyweight fight that was featured in the co-main event. Former title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (36-18) was taking on the surging top contender Johnny Walker (21-7).
Walker was looking for the biggest win of his career while Lionheart was looking to get back on track after suffering a loss and a injury in his fight against Magomed Ankalaev last year. Well, things didn’t go as planned for Anthony Smith.
In the first round, he was hurt by Johnny Walker. He did bounce back strong in the second round and there’s a definite argument for giving the second round to Lionheart. However, his legs were badly compromised in the third round and he just didn’t have anything for Walker.
Walker was actually criticized for not trying harder for the finish with a badly damaged Smith in front of him. Johnny Walker got the unanimous decision win at UFC Charlotte. After the fight, Smith took his gloves off and Dana White hinted that he might’ve been considering retirement.
UFC Charlotte Fallout
However, there was no announcement for Smith. White said at the post-fight press conference that he heard that Smith wanted to think about his fighting future. However, Lionheart said on his SiriusXM show there was no consideration of retirement.
Simply put, Lionheart isn’t ready to hang up the gloves. Especially on a performance like that where he and the fans know he’s capable of doing more. Instead, it’s time for a reset for the former UFC title challenger. So, what should be next for Smith?
In looking at the rankings, I really wouldn’t mind seeing him have a rematch with Volkan Oezdemir. Oezdemir is ranked one spot behind Smith currently and it’s been nearly five years since their first fight where Smith won by submission in the third round.
Smith has lost two in a row and Oezdemir is just 1-3 in his last four. Still, both men are ranked right next to each other in the UFC’s top ten. To me, it’s the right time to book their second fight and get one back on track while the other will have to evaluate whether or not to continue their fighting career inside the octagon.