At UFC Vegas 8, Anthony Smith (33-16) was dealt a crushing defeat at the hands of Aleksandar Rakic (13-2). Smith was very confident going into the fight, but it was apparent from the opening seconds that he was going to have a difficult time.
Rakic battered Smith’s lead leg in the opening minutes of the fight. The kicks did so much damage that Smith crumbled to the ground in the first round. The rest of the fight saw the former UFC title challenger on his back defending against Rakic’s attacks.
The loss was the second straight loss for Lionheart. Smith was clearly dejected in the post-fight show. Reflecting on the second consecutive loss, Smith wasn’t sure what was next for his career. He seemed to be contemplating a move back to middleweight.
“Iâ€™m just too big for 185 and you start getting to these bigger, stronger, taller, longer guys, theyâ€™re just so strong. He wasnâ€™t passing my guard. He wasnâ€™t putting me in danger on the ground. I just couldnâ€™t get up…I think I’ve got some big decisions to make in my career,” Smith said in the post-fight show.
UFC’s light heavyweight or middleweight division?
Smith is in a really difficult spot as he laid out in his post-fight interview. In his current physical condition, he’s very big for middleweight. It would be a struggle to get down to the 185 pound limit given his current stature.
At the same time, he’s smaller than a lot of guys at light heavyweight. It was extremely evident last night that Rakic was much stronger physically. The former UFC title challenger really had no answer when Rakic was on top of him.
There are really only two options for Smith. He either needs to work hard to change up his lifestyle to make middleweight, or he needs to focus on adding weight and strength to stay at 205. Smith is still a top ten UFC light heavyweight, but I can’t see him beating the top contenders in the division at this point.
Lionheart used to compete at middleweight, but after a loss to Thiago Santos at 185, he decided to move up. He won three consecutive fights which earned him a title shot. He lost to Jon Jones at UFC 235, but then bounced back to defeat Alexander Gustafsson.
Now, Smith has lost two fights convincingly over the past three months which is forcing him to evaluate his career. Personally, I think it would be better for his career if he changed his lifestyle to make middleweight again.
That’s only if he can do it safely without hindering his performance. Smith’s skill set and stature just play better in the UFC‘s middleweight division. If he goes down to 185, maybe we could see that grudge match with Luke Rockhold. Smith is far from done in his career, but he is right, there are some big decisions ahead of him.