UFC Vegas 83 Co-Main Event Preview: Anthony Smith – Khalil Rountree

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

Tomorrow night in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 83, we are going to see a matchup between two ranked light heavyweight contenders. Former light heavyweight title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (37-18) gets back in there against the surging contender Khalil Rountree (12-5, 1 NC).

Rountree enters this bout riding a ton of momentum. After starting out his UFC career 4-5, 1 NC in ten fights, Rountree has really turned things around and found his rhythm. Since September 2021, Rountree has won four straight fights including three by knockout. The lone decision was a razor close decision win over Dustin Jacoby.

This is a big step up for Rountree and if he gets the win in impressive fashion tomorrow, he might only be a win away from serious title contention at 205. However, getting that win is not going to be easy as he takes on a serious vet in Lionheart Smith.

In August 2020, Smith lost to Aleksandar Rakic and didn’t know what his future held. However, three straight first round finishes later got him right back in the title picture. Then, he lost back-to-back fights against Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker.

Again, the future wasn’t clear for Smith. Then, he defeated Ryan Spann for a second time back in August and now he’s ready to make another run towards the title. If he can defeat Rountree tomorrow, he’ll be right in the mix for another UFC title shot.

UFC Vegas 83 Prediction

One thing that makes this fight a little tough to predict is the fact that Smith is taking this fight on short notice. Originally, Rountree was supposed to take on fellow striker and finisher Azamat Murzakanov. However, an illness pulled him out of the fight and Lionheart stepped in to face Rountree.

Rountree was expecting a fellow big time striker while the former UFC title challenger wasn’t preparing to fight at all. I’ll be very curious to see the kind of shape that Smith is in on fight night. For this, I’m just going to say both men come in at their best. For Rountree, he has to keep this fight standing.

Smith is very vulnerable to leg kicks and Rountree is one of the more powerful kickers in the division. I could see him doing real damage there. Smith has a big advantage in the grappling and I think you’ll see him try to get the fight down sooner than later. If he can get Rountree down, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a submission win.

That said, I think I’m going to ride with the momentum of Rountree here. He seems incredibly focused and I think he’ll make a statement tomorrow night at UFC Vegas 83. In the second round after chopping Lionheart down, he’ll unleash a major combination and ultimately finishing the fight giving him his fifth straight win.

Prediction: Khalil Rountree by TKO – Round 2