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.

After UFC Vegas 20 win, what’s next for Magomed Ankalaev?

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 20, Magomed Ankalaev (15-1) and Nikita Krylov (27-8) went head-to-head in a pivotal match in the light heavyweight division. The winner of this matchup would only be a win or two away from a UFC title shot.

In the first round, Nikita Krylov was getting the better of the exchanges. Krylov was using his kicks nicely and his clinch control was impressive. All three judges gave the first round to Krylov. However, after round one, the momentum switched.

Magomed Ankalaev came out very aggressive to start the second round. There was a lot of pressure from Ankalaev and he started working his wrestling. Krylov couldn’t get anything going at UFC Vegas 20 once Ankalaev started going downhill.

Neither man did serious damage to the other throughout the fight. It was a tactical affair that was relatively easy to call once the final bell sounded. It was clear that Ankalaev had won the last two rounds with his forward pressure and his wrestling.

When the judges scorecards were read, Ankalaev won 29-28 on all three scorecards. After losing his UFC debut by a last second triangle choke, Magomed Ankalaev has now won six fights in a row at 205 pounds.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 20?

The hype train continues for the light heavyweight from Dagestan. Ankalaev looks to be the kind of contender that can challenge for the light heavyweight title in the next year or so. With that, what should the UFC do with him next?

Considering what is currently on the books, I think a matchup in April would provide the perfect opponent for Ankalaev. At UFC 261 in April, Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (34-16) will be taking on Jimmy Crute (12-1).

Smith is currently ranked sixth while Crute is ranked 12th in the light heavyweight division. Whoever wins this matchup would be the perfect next opponent for Ankalaev. I belive this is where the promotion will head. Whoever would win the matchup between the winner and Ankalaev might just be one victory away from a UFC title shot.

Magomed Ankalaev grinds out decision over Nikita Krylov at UFC Vegas 20

In the co-main event of UFC Vegas 20, we saw a matchup between two top eleven contenders in the light heavyweight division. Eighth ranked Nikita Krylov (27-7) took on the eleventh ranked contender, Magomed Ankalaev (14-1).

Ankalaev has been on a roll in the UFC over the past couple of years. The native of Dagestan has now won five fights in a row with the promotion after losing his debut. That loss came to Paul Craig and it came just one second before the final bell.

Out of the last five wins for Ankalaev, four of them have been by stoppage. He scored a knockout over the talented Ion Cutelaba in his last fight which put the rest of the light heavyweight division on notice.

Standing across from Ankalaev was the talented Nikita Krylov. Krylov is actually on his second stint with the UFC. Krylov went 6-3 during his first run with the promotion, but they ultimately let him walk.

After a few impressive performances, the UFC resigned him. Since returning, Krylov has gone 2-2 but his two losses came against Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira. If Krylov was able to pickup the win tonight, he could be getting closer to a UFC title shot.

UFC Vegas 20 Recap

Round 1

The UFC Vegas 20 co-main event kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Krylov pushed forward first with a nice body kick. Another body kick slams home for Krylov. Ankalaev takes the center, but Krylov lands a solid shot that he tries to chain into a takedown.

However, Ankalaev defended well at first. Krylov was heavy in the clinch and eventually worked Ankalaev to the ground. Ankalaev was able to use the fence to work his way up to his feet, but Krylov still held control in the clinch.

A nice knee to the body lands for Krylov and the two separate. Ankalaev lands a nice right hand as Krylov comes in. Krylov continued to look for body kicks and then he throws one up top. Ankalaev was doing well holding the center of the cage.

Another solid body kick lands for Krylov. A stiff jab lands for Krylov, but Ankalaev throws some heat back. Krylov lands another solid body kick on Ankalaev. Ankalaev then tries for his own takedown, but the fence saves Krylov. It’s 1-0 Krylov at UFC Vegas 20.

Round 2

The second round at UFC Vegas 20 started with more pressure from Ankalaev. Krylov throws a nice shot that he tries to transition into a takedown. However, Ankalaev just shrugs him off and goes back to the pressure.

A stiff check right hook lands on Krylov as he advances. The pressure was heavy from Ankalaev, but Krylov was holding his own. Another nice body kick lands for Nikita Krylov. Those body kicks were starting to do a little damage.

Ankalaev catches a body kick and forces a clinch where he lands a massive knee. He followed that knee with a big body kick. Another right hook lands for Ankalaev as Krylov tries to advance. Momentum was building for Ankalaev in the second round.

Ankalaev times a Krylov advance and lands a takedown. Krylov did a good job of controlling Ankalaev’s posture, but he couldn’t get off the ground. The round comes to a close and it’s 1-1 at UFC Vegas 20.

Round 3

Heading into the final round at UFC Vegas 20 and this fight is up for grabs. The two touch gloves and Krylov starts the striking with a nice body kick. Ankalaev lands a nice check hook as Krylov tries to advance.

Two more body kicks land for Nikita Krylov. A huge right hand for Ankalaev that snaps the head back of Krylov. Krylov shoots in for a takedown but Ankalaev just throws him aside and goes back to the pressure.

Ankalaev then shoots in for his own takedown attempt, but Krylov defended well. Krylov couldn’t get Ankalaev off of him along the fence. Ankalaev uses a beautiful trip to take Krylov down halfway through the round.

Krylov works his way back to his feet, but he couldn’t get Ankalaev off of him. Krylov tries spinning a couple of times to shake Ankalaev off, but he couldn’t do it. Ankalaev then lands another takedown with one minute left in the round.

It’s do-or-die time for Nikita Krylov here at UFC Vegas 20. Ankalaev pulls Krylov away from the fence and starts throwing a little ground and pound. The round comes to a close with Ankalaev on top. Should be a decision win for Magomed Ankalaev.

Magomed Ankalaev def. Nikita Krylov by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

UFC Vegas 20 Preview: Nikita Krylov – Magomed Ankalaev

In the co-main event of UFC Vegas 20 we will see a battle between two top eleven light heavyweights. Top contender, Nikita Krylov (27-7), takes on Magomed Ankalaev (14-1) in a fight that promises to be entertaining tomorrow night.

Ankalaev will walk into the cage as the eleventh ranked light heavyweight in the UFC. A native of Dagestan, Ankalaev is 5-1 since he made his debut with the promotion back in 2018. The lone loss was a triangle choke loss to Paul Craig that came literally one second before the final bell.

Since that fight, it’s been smooth sailing for Ankalaev in the UFC. He’s 5-0 with four stoppages and he’s coming off of arguably his most impressive win at UFC 254. Ankalaev took on Ion Cutelaba in a rematch from earlier in 2020.

In the first fight, Ankalaev rocked (or appeared to rock) Cutelaba and the ref stepped in. Cutelaba was irate because he said he was playing possum. The UFC ran the fight back and Ankalaev left no doubts in the rematch knocking Cutelaba out cold.

Standing across from Ankalaev tomorrow night is Nikita Krylov. Krylov is actually on his second stint with the UFC. He made his original debut with the promotion back in 2013. Krylov went 6-3 and the promotion let him walk. After going 4-0 with four stoppages after that, the promotion brought him back.

Since coming back, Krylov has fought four times. He’s 2-2 but his losses are to the current champion and the current number one contender. He’s defeated Johnny Walker and avenged a loss from early in his career against Ovince St. Preux.

UFC Vegas 20 Prediction

The UFC Vegas 20 co-main event is going to be a lot of fun to watch and I’m expecting the fight to take place on the feet. Krylov has good grappling, however, Ankalaev’s takedown defense should neutralize any takedown attempts from Krylov.

With that in mind, I’m thinking about my prediction with this being strictly a standup fight. Both men are well-versed on the feet. With Krylov, I love his creativity and I love his use of kicks. You’ll see some high kicks with some spinning kicks thrown in at UFC Vegas 20.

I was really blown away with what I saw from Ankalaev in his last performance. The speed and power in his striking was impressive, but also his distance control and defense was something to behold.

I really believe that both of these light heavyweights are very evenly matched. I can see both men getting a decision with ranking up points in this one. However, I ultimately believe that Ankalaev will land the more powerful shots and that will allow him to get the win tomorrow night.

Prediction: Magomed Ankalaev by Unanimous Decision

UFC Vegas 8 Preview: Can Anthony Smith bounce back against Aleksandar Rakic?

Anthony Smith

Tomorrow night the UFC returns with action from the APEX as light heavyweights take center stage for a solid main event. Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (33-15) will be taking on Aleksandar Rakic (12-2) in the main event of the evening. A very solid night of fights are ahead so let’s dive into the main card.

Top Eight UFC light heavyweights battle

The main event is a really solid one between two top eight UFC light heavyweights. Both Anthony Smith and Aleksandar Rakic are looking to bounce back after suffering losses in their last time out. Due to the short notice main event slot, this is a three round fight.

For Smith, he’s coming off of a really tough loss to Glover Teixeira back in May. Smith looked really good in the first couple of rounds, but about halfway through the fight there was a massive change. Teixeira was hurting Smith badly, and finished him in the fifth.

It was the second loss in three fights for Lionheart, granted the other came to Jon Jones at UFC 235. Smith is one of the top contenders at light heavyweight for a reason. He entered the division with three consecutive finishes before getting the Jones fight. Then he submitted Alexander Gustafsson after the Jones loss.

Smith possesses solid ground and striking skills. Lionheart has a wealth of experience, and he does have the skills to pose some interesting challenges for Rakic.

Rakic came into the UFC back in 2017 and he’s looked incredibly impressive. He did lose a close split decision in his last fight, but outside of that, he’s 4-0 with two incredible finishes. One of those finishes was a highlight reel headkick against Jimi Manuwa.

Rakic is explosive in his striking, and he’s incredibly efficient on his feet. He’s a very exciting fighter for the light heavyweight division. In his 12 victories, nine of them have come by knockout.

In going through this fight, I think the three round nature is going to play a big factor. If this was a five round main event, I think I would lean a little towards Smith given the experience. I think the fight is going to go the distance in this one.

Rakic is extremely explosive, but I really would like to see him go five rounds. Smith has fought into the fifth round a couple of times in his career. With it being three rounds, I like Rakic to land some really clean shots and pick up a decision. Don’t count out Lionheart, but I think Rakic takes this one.

Prediction: Aleksandar Rakic by Unanimous Decision

Robbie Lawler vs Neil Magny

In the co-main event of the evening you have the former UFC welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler (28-14, 1 NC), taking on the Haitian Sensation Neil Magny (23-7). This is a little bit of a do or die fight for the former champion.

After his stint with Strikeforce, Lawler returned to the UFC back in 2013. Ruthless went on a 8-1 run that saw him become the welterweight champion and defend the title successfully twice. He then was knocked out by Tyron Woodley to lose that title.

Since losing the title, Lawler really hasn’t been the same. He won a decision against Cowboy Cerrone, but then he’s lost three in a row. The Askren loss is still questionable, but he was dominated by Rafael Dos Anjos and Colby Covington over five rounds.

With Lawler, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a guy who is always looking to finish the fight with his striking. In the past, he would be very aggressive, but we haven’t seen that guy in a few fights. Maybe he returns Saturday.

Magny is looking to have the best year of his professional career. After an 18 month layoff, Magny has won two fights in 2020. A third over a former champion would be huge for Magny. The Haitian Sensation is also looking to pick up another win over a former UFC champion.

Magny is not going to really wow you with any of his skills, but he’s incredible efficient. He’s put together a resume that includes wins over Kelvin Gastelum, Johny Hendricks, and Carlos Condit. Magny is incredible long, and he’s got very good grappling skills.

This is a tough fight for me to pick. A few years ago, I would have said Magny has no chance. However, I’m not sure Robbie Lawler is the same guy he used to be. To win this fight he needs to fight how Santiago Ponzinibbo fought Neil Magny.

Lawler needs to move forward and throw big shots. Magny is at a striking disadvantage here so you might see him try to wrestle more in this one. Maybe I’m going with my heart a little, but I think Lawler will land bigger shots over three rounds. I’m not picking a finish, but I think the bigger shots outweigh the volume in a very close fight.

Prediction: Robbie Lawler by Split Decision

Alexa Grasso vs Ji Yeon Kim

The third fight on the main card is a really good women’s flyweight weight contest as Alexa Grasso (11-3) moves up in weight to take on Ji Yeon Kim (9-2-2). Both of these women are ranked in their respected UFC divisions.

Grasso comes into this contest at 3-3 in her last six fights. She has incredibly good striking, but she’s ran into a problem in her three losses. Grasso does not fair well against fighters with good grappling backgrounds.

In her three losses, Grasso has shown that when she gets taken down, she’s more of the fighter who hopes for a stand up from the referee. When in striking range, she can compete with anyone, and this is a fight that can let her shine.

Kim entered the UFC with a decent amount of hype given her pedigree. She is well-versed in many martial arts and had some amateur boxing and kickboxing experience. Kim also entered the octagon for the first time at 6-0-2.

She did have an impressive win in her last outing, but outside of that, the results have been very underwhelming. Kim is 3-2 in the octagon but two of those wins came via split decision. If those judges sided the other way we’d be looking at a fighter who is 1-4.

I think this fight is going to stay on the feet over the course of three rounds. Kim has plenty of skill to be able to win this fight, but I just can’t have any confidence in her based on what I’ve seen.

I think Grasso will have the speed and technique advantage moving up from 115. Look for Grasso to use some crisp combinations in this one. If Kim can keep the fight at distance, she might be able to get the decision, but I’m going with Grasso on this one.

Prediction: Alexa Grasso by Unanimous Decision

Ricardo Lamas vs Bill Algeo

The second fight on the main card features former featherweight title challenger, Ricardo Lamas (19-8), taking on UFC newcomer Bill Algeo (13-4). Lamas was supposed to fight Ryan Hall, but Hall was forced to pull out due to injury.

Lamas is at an interesting stage in his career. He’s 38 years old and he’s just 1-3 in his last four fights. However, one was a split decision loss and the other two came against Josh Emmett and Calvin Kattar. No shame in those losses. In between the losses was a TKO win over Darren Elkins.

With Lamas, you’re going to get a guy who is comfortable everywhere. He has really good striking, and he’s got great submissions. He even submitted Charles Oliveira back in 2016.

This is a really tough draw for Algeo in his first fight with the promotion. Algeo is a veteran of the Contender Series, but lost a decision in his fight. He did come away giving off a good impression which is why the UFC is willing to give him the short notice fight here.

Algeo has very good striking, and he hits with good power. He does a really good job of mixing up his strikes going up top and to the body. Algeo definitely has the skills to make this an interesting matchup.

Yes, Lamas on paper is just 3-4 in his last seven fights. However, those four losses are all to top competition. This is just a little too much to ask of Algeo in his debut. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m going with experience here and I’m picking Ricardo Lamas to pick up the victory.

Prediction: Ricardo Lamas by Unanimous Decision

Magomed Ankalaev vs Ion Cutelaba

Kicking off the UFC Vegas 8 main card on ESPN+ is a light heavyweight rematch between Magomed Ankalaev (13-1) and Ion Cutelaba (15-5, 1 NC). This fight was originally supposed to happen a couple of weeks ago, but a positive COVID test pushed it back.

These two fought back in February and the results was nothing short of controversial. Nothing of significance seemed to land from Ankalaev, but Cutelaba was acting rocked. You could tell he was acting just by his movements. Maybe some shots landed for Ankalaev, but nothing damaging.

During his acting, you could tell Cutelaba was trying to time a big shot. Maybe not the brightest strategy, but he did have Ankalaev going after him pretty open. Nevertheless, the referee stopped the fight believing Cutelaba was out on his feet during his cherade.

Now, the two men will run the fight back. Ankalaev will try to make it five wins in a row in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. Ankalaev has diverse striking and very good power in his shots. Magomed Ankalaev is really good wherever the fight goes.

In the early stages of any fight, Cutelaba is extremely dangerous. He’s got fantastic hand speed and really good power. Just ask Khalil Rountree about the power that Cutelaba possesses. However, his skills are more geared towards a fast start.

If this fight gets out of the first round, I’m not sure how well I think Cutelaba will do against Ankalaev over three rounds. I think the diversity in the striking is really going to play to Ankalaev’s advantage. While not the sexiest fight picks, I’m going with another main card decision in this one.

Prediction: Magomed Ankalaev by Unanimous Decision

UFC Vegas 8 Outlook

On paper, this is a fantastic card from the UFC. MMA fans should be excited for tomorrow night. I expect the card to deliver some great fights that will have everyone talking about it next week.

 

UFC: Ion Cutelaba tests positive for COVID-19; fight with Magomed Ankalaev off

Ion Cutelaba

COVID-19 has struck again when it comes to fight cancellations. This time it has taken out one of the main card fights from this weekend’s UFC 252 PPV. Ion Cutelaba has tested positive for COVID-19.

As a result, the anticipated UFC rematch with Magomed Ankalaev has been postponed again. This is the second time that the fight has been pushed back.

UFC pushing back to August 29th

In speaking with MMA Fighting, Cutelaba’s manager said that the current plan is to move the fight back a couple of weeks. “Just got to make sure he doesn’t get sick these next few days,” Cutelabla’s manager said of the proposed August 29th date.

The fight is a rematch from a fight back in February at UFC Fight Night 169. In that fight, Ankalaev appeared to have hurt Cutelaba on the feet causing the referee to step in granting Ankalaev the TKO victory.

Cutelaba immediately protested saying it was all a setup. Cutelaba attempted to contest the fight result, but that went no where. They tried booking the fight for UFC 249, but that also got cancelled.

Ankalaev will enter the octagon whenever they fight on a current four fight winning streak. Cutelaba was coming off of a very big win over Khalil Rountree prior to the loss to Ankalaev.

This is a big fight for the light heavyweight division. Ankalaev is currently ranked thirteen while Cutelaba is not ranked. A win for either man in this rematch whenever it takes place could mean a potential top ten opponent in their next fight.