Kicking off the main card at UFC 261 is a light heavyweight showdown between two top thirteen contenders. Former title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (34-16) will be taking on the surging prospect from Australia, Jimmy Crute (12-1).
Crute enters tomorrow having won his last two UFC fights by first round stoppage. Those two wins followed his first career loss to Misha Cirkunov. The back-to-back wins have shown me a lot about Jimmy Crute as a fighter. He knows how to deal with adversity and he knows how to get back on track.
Originally, Crute was supposed to face off against Johnny Walker. However, Walker had to pull out of the fight and Crute is getting a big jump in competition. Instead of taking on another contender in a similar position as him, he’s getting a former title challenger at UFC 261.
Anthony Smith has had an interesting stretch since 2019. Smith had a shot against Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title and he came up short. Following that loss, he defeated Alexander Gustafsson. After defeating Gustafsson, Smith fought Glover Teixeira in May of 2020.
Had Smith won that fight, he would have likely fought for the title next. However, Smith lost that fight and then he lost another fight to Aleksandar Rakic. Following those two losses, the UFC gave him a step down in competition against Devin Brown. Smith got the first round finish and now he’s looking to pickup his second straight victory.
UFC 261 Prediction
If I’m being honest, the UFC 261 booking was a very risky one for Anthony Smith. Yes, he’s a company man and they needed him to step up, but this is a very dangerous fight for him against a guy ranked considerably lower. Jimmy Crute looks like he can be a problem at 205 pounds.
Crute can crack on the feet with the best of them and we’ve seen his impressive submission skills in the UFC. Overall, he looks much more polished than Anthony Smith does. However, it’s important that we don’t count out Lionheart just yet.
There isn’t a place in this fight where Smith won’t feel comfortable. He’s been in there with some of the very best that this sport has to offer so you know he’ll be game at UFC 261. That said, I don’t see him outstriking Crute and I don’t see him outgrappling Crute. I see a breakout performance from the Australian light heavyweight tomorrow night.
Prediction: Jimmy Crute by TKO – Round 3