LAS VEGAS – Anthony Smith feels at a turning point in his career.
The former UFC light heavyweight title challenger is confident he’ll soon be taking steps upwards if he’s able to best Ryan Spann in their main event feature at UFC Fight Night 192.
The two are set to clash on Saturday night at the UFC Apex. UFC Fight Night 192 streams on ESPN+ with the main card lineup scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET following prelims, which are slated to start at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Smith (35-16 MMA, 10-6 UFC) is coming off back-to-back stoppage wins over Devin Clark and Jimmy Crute, who at the time were ranked below him. And now, for a third consecutive time, Smith takes on someone lower ranked in Spann (19-6 MMA, 5-1 UFC).
“Lionheart” is ok with not fighting someone ahead of him in the UFC light heavyweight ladder, but he wants that to change if victorious over Spann.
“I think after the Glover and Rakic fights I wasn’t in a position to ask for anybody ahead of me,” Smith told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s media day. “So I just had to kind of defend the position I was in. I did that by fighting the guys that were behind me.
“I think after this fight, if I go in and have a dominant performance, I don’t think I have to defend my position anymore and I can go back to climbing. That’s why the Rakic fight makes sense to me. I have to climb ahead of me. Thiago (Santos) already has a fight coming up; Jiri (Prochazka) has the title shot to fight the winner (of Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixeira); Reyes is coming off three losses – I don’t think that makes sense for me. There’s really just Rakic there and that’s the guy that makes sense for me.”
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Rakic is 6-1 in his past seven UFC bouts. The lone loss was a close, split decision to Volkan Oezdemir. Rakic’s impressive run also includes a win over Smith back in August 2020.
Rakic is certainly in title contention, but Smith believes his chances are low of getting a title shot without stepping in the octagon once again.
“I know he wants to wait for the title fight, but I don’t think that makes any sense,” Smith said. “It’s one of those things that doesn’t make much sense. He hasn’t had any barn-burning performances. He’s done enough to win, which is essentially what you have to do. But he’s not wowing anybody and the UFC is not begging him to fight for the title.
“If Jiri Prochazka is next after the Jan-Glover fight – love Jan, love Glover – but they’re not the youngest guys in the world, they’re not going to be fighting every three months. … He’s in a position where he’s going to fight again or get skipped. If I have to be the guy to push that, I would be happy to do that.”
Watch the full media day interview with Smith in the video above.
Anthony Smith def. Jimmy Crute at UFC 261: Best photos
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