The UFC has finalized a banger of a matchup in the light heavyweight division with potential title implications. MMA Junkie was the first to report last night that former title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (36-16) will be taking on Magomed Ankalaev (17-1).
The matchup will take place at UFC 277 which goes down on July 30th. For Ankalaev, he’s going to be looking for his ninth straight victory. Back in 2018, he lost via a last second triangle choke to Paul Craig, but outside of that, he’s been perfect in his professional career.
The last time we saw Ankalaev was in a UFC Fight Night headliner against Thiago Santos back in March. Not going to lie, the fight was extremely underwhelming and nobody walked away blown away with either fighter.
That being said, Ankalaev walked away with his eighth straight win that night. He’s been on a remarkable run and he’s defeated two straight former UFC title challengers. He hopes to make it three when he takes on Lionheart in July.
UFC 277 Title Eliminator?
Another man on an impressive winning streak is Lionheart Smith. Back in 2020, things looked pretty bad for the former UFC title challenger. He lost a brutal fight to Glover Teixeira and then he was handily defeated by Aleksandar Rakic.
The UFC decided to give Lionheart a step back in competition and that was the best thing for his career. It started with a fight against Devin Clark and Smith made quick work of him stopping him in the first round.
Then, he took on Jimmy Crute at UFC 261. A brutal leg kick from Lionheart hurt Crute and gave Smith his second straight finish. Again, the UFC gave him a rising contender in Ryan Spann next and you guessed it, another first round finish.
Smith proved that he still has plenty in the tank and he’s proved that there is levels to this game. Lionheart Smith is still at the top level and at UFC 277, he could put himself in line for a title shot with a win over the dominant Magomed Ankalaev.