Anthony Smith is the UFC’s odd man out at light heavyweight

Anthony Smith

There appears to be an odd man out in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. Former title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (36-16) now finds himself in a difficult spot after suffering a recent injury. There were advanced talks to have Smith face Aleksandar Rakic in December.

However, Smith had to pull out of the fight due to knee surgery and the UFC decided to move in a different direction. While the fight with Smith could happen a few months later, the UFC pivoted and booked Rakic in a main event against former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.

Smith is currently ranked fourth in the light heavyweight division. The only men above him are Rakic, Jiri Prochazka, Blachowicz, and the champion Glover Teixeira. Jiri Prochazka is expected to face Teixeira for the title sometime during the spring.

This leaves Smith as the odd man out at 205 pounds. Smith said this week that he would be frustrated if the UFC gave Rakic the fight against Blachowicz after Rakic has turned down multiple fights. In the end, the frustration wasn’t enough and the promotion booked that fight anyway.

What does the UFC do with Lionheart?

As mentioned, Smith is currently working his way back from a staff infection and knee surgery. Smith told MMA Fighting this week that he would be frustrated that he wouldn’t get the fight with Blachowicz after Rakic has turned down multiple fights while Smith has turned into a gate keeper.

Smith took on up and coming contenders and dominated three of them in his last three fights. Those wins snapped a losing streak which featured a loss to Rakic. The UFC likely gave Rakic the nod due to the fact that he won a head to head battle with Smith. Nevertheless, Smith has a point about Rakic’s inactivity.

The next two guys behind Smith, Magomed Ankalaev and Thiago Santos, are booked to face each other in March. Those two would make the most sense for Smith, but now the only fight out there for him might be a battle against a fellow former UFC title challenger.

In looking at the division, the only opponent that makes real sense is Dominick Reyes (12-3). Reyes has been taking some time off after suffering three straight defeats. Granted, two losses came in title fights and one came in a title eliminator against Jiri Prochazka.

Reyes is likely going to be looking for an opponent soon and Smith needs one. On paper, one might wonder why someone with three straight losses would fight someone with three straight wins. Simply put, these are the two best guys not booked in the top ten, and it would be a great fight.

Time will tell what the UFC decides to do. Perhaps Smith becomes the alternate for the title fight with Prochazka and Teixeira. Nevertheless, he’s in a very tough spot and is likely going to be in limbo for the short term.

What happened to Jan Blachowicz at UFC 267?

Corey Anderson

It’s been a few days since we saw UFC 267 where Jan Blachowicz (28-9) lost his light heavyweight title to Glover Teixeira (33-7). Of course, the day of the event and the follow up days have all been focused on the 42 year old Teixeira who captured UFC gold after all of these years.

The story is too good to ignore and Teixeira deserved all the shine that he got. However, I started thinking about the former champion. Thinking about the incredible run that he went on over the past few years that saw him capture UFC gold.

Jan Blachowicz was at one point 2-4 in six fights. He truly looked like a fighter who was about to be cut by the UFC. However, things started to change and the Polish Power presented itself. Blachowicz’s would go on a stretch where he was 9-1.

In those wins he had wins over Israel Adesanya, Dominick Reyes, Corey Anderson, Luke Rockhold, and others. He truly looked like the best light heavyweight in the world not just in the UFC. However, Saturday night, he didn’t look close to being the best in the world.

What happened at UFC 267 and what’s next?

The performance was not good from Blachowicz on Saturday. He was beaten to the punch on the feet by Teixeira and he had no answer for Glover’s takedowns. Anyone who is anyone knew that the only way Teixeira would win is by getting takedowns.

He was able to get them easily at UFC 267. Blachowicz never landed anything of significance that backed off Teixeira. In the second round, Teixeira actually rocked Blachowicz on the feet before a takedown led to a choke and the finish.

I was stunned by the result and honestly thought Blachowicz would knock him out. After beating the guys he did, I didn’t think Blachowicz could lose to Glover at UFC 267. Maybe the Polish Power thought the same thing.

Whether you want to say it was just a bad night or whether you want to say he overlooked Teixeira, no matter what, something went wrong at UFC 267. So, what does Jan Blachowicz do now that he’s lost in the fashion that he did.

Well, he’s going to need a big win to show he’s still at the top of the division. Guys like Aleksandar Rakic or Anthony Smith could be on deck for Blachowicz. Either way, Blachowicz should be put right back in there with a top contender so he can prove to the UFC, he’s still the same guy with the legendary Polish Power.

After dominant win at UFC Vegas 37, what’s next for Anthony Smith?

Anthony Smith

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.

Anthony Smith submits Ryan Spann in the first at UFC Vegas 37

Anthony Smith

In the headliner of UFC Vegas 37, we saw a showdown in the light heavyweight division. Former title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (35-16) returned and took on rising contender Ryan Spann (19-6).

Smith was looking for his third straight UFC victory tomorrow night. It’s been a rollercoaster few years for Lionheart in the UFC. After first rising through the rankings, Smith hit tough times inside the octagon. Last year he lost two very tough fights to Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic.

After those losses, Smith’s back was against the wall and he’s won two straight since to get back on track. The last time we saw him was at UFC 261 when he stopped Jimmy Crute with a powerful leg kick.

Ryan Spann earned himself a UFC contract on The Contender Series and since then, he’s been sensational. Overall with the promotion, he’s 5-1 with the lone loss coming to Johnny Walker. If Spann can pickup the win tomorrow night, he will have shown everyone that he’s ready for the best in the division.

UFC Vegas 37 Recap

Round 1

The UFC Vegas 37 main event kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Smith took the center to start and landed a nice calf kick. Nice front kick to the body lands for Spann. Another low kick lands for Smith and Smith lands a right hand.

Spann gets a body lock and carries Smith over to his corner’s side of the cage. Smith is able to separate and the two have a big exchange. Spann gets dropped by Smith and Smith is all over him.

Spann is able to survive and he forces a scramble. He scrambles right into an armbar from Smith, but Smith can’t finish it. The two get back up to striking and Smith rocks Spann again with a big left hook.

Spann is extremely wobbly and he goes down again. Smith is all over him here and he takes the back of Spann. Spann gets flattened out by Smith and Smith locks in the rear naked choke and this one is over. Dominant performance by Lionheart.

Anthony Smith def. Ryan Spann by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) – Round 1

UFC Vegas 37 Preview: Anthony Smith – Ryan Spann

Anthony Smith

Tomorrow night in the headliner of UFC Vegas 37, we will see a showdown in the light heavyweight division. Former title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (35-16) is back as he’s taking on rising contender Ryan Spann (19-6).

Smith will be looking for his third straight UFC victory tomorrow night. It’s been a rollercoaster few years for Lionheart in the UFC. Back in June of 2018, Smith started a streak where he won three fights in a row.

That winning streak got him a fight with Jon Jones for the UFC title. He ultimately lost that fight, but bounced back big time with a win over Alexander Gustafsson. However, after that fight, he lost two in a row. That last lost coming against Aleksandar Rakic in a fight where he was completely dominated.

After that loss, Smith’s back was against the wall and he’s won two straight to get back on track. The last time we saw him was at UFC 261 when he stopped Jimmy Crute with a powerful leg kick.

Ryan Spann earned himself a UFC contract on The Contender Series and since then, he’s been sensational. Overall with the promotion, he’s 5-1 with the lone loss coming to Johnny Walker. If Spann can pickup the win tomorrow night, he will have shown everyone that he’s ready for the best in the division.

UFC Vegas 37 Prediction

There are going to be several key factors in this UFC main event. One of the key factors I’m going to be paying attention to is cardio. We’ve seen Ryan Spann have cardio issues in the past which could really hurt him.

This is a five-round fight and if Spann hasn’t drastically improved his cardio, he could be in trouble. While Spann has good power, I think he’s going to focus on trying to get this fight to the ground.

I do believe that he will be able to land some takedowns. That said, I don’t think he’s going to be able to finish Smith there. Lionheart is crafty and I expect him to get back to his feet in the middle rounds and control the stand up.

Ultimately, I’m banking on the lack of cardio in Spann for my UFC Vegas 37 prediction. I think by the later rounds, Smith is going to completely take over and I think we are going to see a late submission from Lionheart.

Prediction: Anthony “Lionheart” Smith by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) – Round 5

UFC books headliner between Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith and Ryan Spann

Anthony Smith

The UFC has booked a pivotal headliner in the light heavyweight division for September. Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith (35-16) is going to be taking on Ryan Spann (19-6). This fight is scheduled to headline a UFC Fight Night on September 18th.

Smith first dropped the news this past weekend on UFC programming and has since confirmed on Twitter. Lionheart will once again be taking on a hungry up-and-comer who will be looking to use him as a stepping stone.

Ryan Spann has been close to perfect since he made his UFC debut. Spann earned himself a contract with the world’s premier MMA organization when he appeared on Dana White’s Contender Series back in 2018.

He submitted his opponent in just 26 seconds to earn himself a contract. Once in the UFC, Spann won his first four fights including a submission win over Devin Clark. The highlight of his first four fights was a knockout win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in Brazil.

After starting 4-0, the UFC gave him a shot against Johnny Walker. The fight was back-and-forth and ultimately Walker got the first round stoppage. However, Spann bounced back well when he stopped the tough Misha Cirkunov in the first round back in March.

Lionheart = UFC Gate Keeper?

As for Lionheart, he will be looking to pick up his third straight victory. The last time we saw Smith he was taking on the surging Jimmy Crute at UFC 261. Lionheart looked better than ever that night. Smith used his jab to really do some damage throughout the first round.

Then, Lionheart landed a beautiful leg kick that completely messed up the knee of Jimmy Crute. Crute tried to fight through it but the doctor called a stop to the action in between rounds and Smith picked up the TKO win at UFC 261.

That was the second straight victory for Smith who looks more motivated than ever. Last year, Smith suffered a really tough defeat at the hands of Glover Teixeira. After that loss, he was dominated by Aleksandar Rakic and Smith looked like a shell of himself in that fight.

Many were questioning the UFC future of Smith. However, Lionheart found his motivation and scored back-to-back wins by stoppage. Taking this fight against a guy like Ryan Spann shows that Smith is simply ready to take on all comers and that Lionheart is a dangerous Lionheart.

After setback at UFC 261, what’s next for Jimmy Crute?

Jimmy Crute (12-2) had a massive opportunity at UFC 261. He had the opportunity to fight a top six opponent and former title challenger, Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (35-16).

Going into UFC 261, this fight was being looked at as a stepping stone for Crute. Many in the media including myself are extremely high on Jimmy Crute and his talent.

A win over someone like Lionheart Smith would put Crute only a win or two away from a UFC title shot. That said, it wasn’t going to be an easy fight and there’s plenty of fight left in Anthony Smith.

When the fight started on Saturday, Crute was really working his leg kicks. He couldn’t get much going up top because of Smith’s piston-like jab that kept popping his head back throughout the first round.

However, Crute was doing some damage to the legs of Smith at UFC 261. You could tell that if Crute just landed a few more kicks to the right spot, Anthony Smith was going to be in a lot of trouble.

Just before the end of the round, Smith landed the perfect leg kick on Jimmy Crute which really injured his knee. Crute struggled to finish the round and the doctor called a stop to the action in between rounds. A disappointing end at UFC 261 for the Australian.

What’s next after UFC 261?

While UFC 261 didn’t go as planned, I wouldn’t say that it’s a major setback. Crute took a big step up in competition and he came up short. That doesn’t take away from his talent or what I think is in store for his future.

I believe that Jimmy Crute will be a serious contender for the UFC title one day. However, Saturday night showed that it’s not quite time just yet. So, what does the UFC do with Crute now?

Well, the first thing is his health. Once it’s determined how long he has to be out, then the promotion can start thinking about an opponent. An opponent I really like is Crute’s original opponent, Johnny Walker (18-5).

Walker and Crute were supposed to fight before Walker got injured. Anthony Smith then jumped in to fight Crute at UFC 261. These two young contenders will still put on an excellent fight and it’s a fight that makes a ton of sense.

What’s next for Anthony Smith after UFC 261 win?

Anthony Smith

This past Saturday at UFC 261, Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (35-16) and Jimmy Crute (12-2) kicked off the PPV main card. It was a big fight for both men as Jimmy Crute was looking to continue his rise while Lionheart was looking to get back towards the top of the division.

Jimmy Crute was a popular pick leading up to UFC 261. While Lionheart looked good against Devin Clark in his last win, his previous two fights left a ton to be desired. Crute looked like he could be a real threat in the light heavyweight division.

In all honesty, I picked Crute going into the fight. However, Lionheart looked sensational on Saturday night. When the fight started, Smith immediately established his piston-like jab. Crute’s face was showing some damage very early in the first round.

Towards the end of the first round at UFC 261, Smith landed a brutal leg kick that landed right on the knee of Crute. Crute immediately went down, but he tried to continue. After the round was over, the doctor checked Crute out and waved off the fight after he couldn’t walk without stumbling.

What’s next after UFC 261?

UFC 261 was a massive night for Lionheart. Beating Devin Clark is one thing, but finishing Jimmy Crute in the manner that he did was incredibly impressive. He’s shown everyone in his last two fights that he has plenty left in the tank.

With two wins in a row, what does the UFC do with Lionheart next? Well, he told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani yesterday that he simply doesn’t care. He said that if they want him to fight another rising contender he will or if they want to put him in a title eliminator, that’s fine too.

I think the UFC might seriously look at a matchup between Smith and Magomed Ankalaev (15-1) next. They are ranked sixth and seventh in the light heavyweight division currently. I think a fight between these two would be a perfect fight for the division.

If Smith wins, you put him right into a title eliminator. Ankalaev is one of the top prospects in the division and people think he can be a future UFC champion. Putting him in there with Lionheart would be a massive test, but if he passes, it might be time to either give him a title shot or a title eliminator.

Anthony Smith TKOs Jimmy Crute with a leg kick at UFC 261

Anthony Smith

Kicking off the main card of UFC 261 was a light heavyweight showdown between top fifteen contenders. Former title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (34-16) was set to take on the surging Australian contender Jimmy Crute (12-1).

Originally, Crute was set to take on Johnny Walker. However, after Walker required surgery for an injury, the former UFC title challenger stepped up to fill his place. This is a big step up in competition for Jimmy Crute. A win over Lionheart would be massive for his career.

Entering UFC 261, Crute had back-to-back stoppage victories. Standing in his way of a third straight victory was Anthony Smith. Lionheart has gone through an interesting few years. It seems just like yesterday that he was challenging Jon Jones for the title.

Starting with the Jones loss, Smith went just 1-3 in his next for. In his last matchup, the UFC gave him Devin Brown. Lionheart got the first round stoppage and he’s looking to build more momentum. Defeating Jimmy Crute at UFC 261 would greatly assist him in his journey back to the top.

UFC 261 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 261 main card kicked off with a low kick from Crute. Smith was circling on the outside keeping his guard up early in the opening minute. Crute was trying to gauge the range with his jab and he lands a massive body kick. Smith counters with a nice stiff jab.

Another big jab lands for Lionheart. Low kick lands for Crute that Smith counters with a big left hook. A stiff jab from Smith wobbles Jimmy Crute briefly. However, he recovers almost instantly. Another big calf kick lands for Jimmy Crute, but Smith continues to work his jab.

The jab of Smith is a thing of beauty tonight and he lands two more. Crute’s nose is busted up from the jab of Lionheart. However, now Smith is getting hurt from the low kicks of Crute. Smith lands a massive right hand but Crute just eats it. Another big jab from lionheart.

Crute is doing damage to the legs, but Smith is busting his face up here in the first. A big kick from Smith lands to the leg and down goes Crute. However, Crute gets up and immediately lands a takedown. Crute starts landing bombs as the round comes to a close. 1-0 Lionheart after one here at UFC 261.

However, the doctor calls a stop to the action after Crute can’t walk. Leg kick TKO for Lionheart Smith.

Anthony Smith def. Jimmy Crute by TKO – Round 1

UFC 261 Preview: Anthony Smith – Jimmy Crute

Anthony Smith

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