This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 37, we saw a light heavyweight showdown between Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (36-16) and Ryan Spann (19-7). For Smith, he was trying to turn away another up and coming contender.
Lionheart was at the peak of the UFC‘s light heavyweight division entering 2020. However, two rough losses shuffled him back in the pack and there were a lot of questions regarding the desire of Smith to compete on the highest level.
The UFC decided to book him against some of the younger contenders to see where he was at. As a result, Smith went on a two-fight rampage where he stopped by Devin Clark and Jimmy Crute in the first round.
That said, the UFC decided to give Smith another tough rising contender this past Saturday in Ryan Spann. Once again, Smith answered the call in completely dominating fashion.
From the opening bell, Smith completely outclassed Ryan Spann. Lionheart dropped Spann multiple times before getting his back and submitting him in the first. It was the third straight first round finish for Lionheart in the UFC.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 37?
Make no mistake about it, Lionheart is back near the top of the UFC’s light heavyweight division after Saturday night. He did what the promotion asked in scaling back the competition to reset his career.
Out of this, Smith looks better than ever. His striking looks incredibly crisp and his ground game looks tremendous as he’s secured two submissions. After his win on Saturday, there was one light heavyweight that he called out.
That man is Aleksandar Rakic (14-2). Rakic is currently the UFC’s third ranked light heavyweight contender. Smith and Rakic fought last year with Rakic winning a dominant decision.
Now, you might ask why the UFC would rebook these two after Smith was dominated last year by Rakic? Well, they would for a couple of reasons. The first reason being that this looks like a completely different Lionheart.
Lionheart looks more motivated than ever and he looks more dangerous than ever. The second reason is that Rakic really failed to impress the UFC with his last performance. He defeated Thiago Santos, but nobody was excited about the fight or his victory.
With that, he lost a little steam. Rakic said on Twitter that he’s ready to go for a fight in December. Smith responded in the Octagon saying, “Merry Christmas to me.” This definitely looks like the direction the UFC should and will go next for Lionheart.