UFC light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith has responded to his critics by asking who he has to beat in order to get the respect he deserves.
Smith was in action this past weekend at UFC Vegas 37. In the main event, “Lionheart” faced #11-ranked Ryan Spann. In less than four minutes, the former title challenger had his hand raised for the third consecutive fight. After continuing to show the improvements he’s made on the feet, Smith submitted Spann with a rear-naked choke after rocking him with punches.
With quick wins over Devin Clark and Jimmy Crute over the past year, Smith hasn’t seen a second round since his loss to Aleksander Rakić last August. Having endured a one-sided beatdown at the hands of Glover Teixeira before that, many wrote off his title aspirations. But Smith’s current win streak makes it clear that he’s back to his best and mounting a second run for light heavyweight gold.
Despite three stoppage wins in a row, many have still doubted “Lionheart” and criticized the opposition he’s been facing. Smith’s post-fight reaction on Saturday showed the frustration he has at what he perceives to be disrespect towards his record and recent performances.
While he may have let his emotions get the best of him at UFC Vegas 37, Smith has now claimed he’s finished worrying about what his critics say. During this past weekend’s post-fight press conference, the 33-year-old suggested there’s nothing he could do inside the Octagon that would grant him the respect he deserves from some members of the MMA community.
“Who do I gotta beat? Like, what do I gotta do? That’s an honest question, you guys. Who do I gotta beat? I beat the old guys, and people said they were too old. Now, I’m beating the young guys, and they’re not ranked high. What the fuck do you want me to do? At this point, I don’t give a fuck anymore. I’m doing what I can do. I’m fighting the guys in front of me. I’m fuckin’ over it. I’m done worrying about it.”
After his latest victory, Smith made his future plans clear. He wants to run it back with Rakić, who is currently ranked #3 in the division. The pair previously met in the UFC Vegas 8 main event. After three rounds, the Austrian was awarded a comfortable unanimous decision win.
With Teixeira set to fight for the belt at UFC 267, and Jiří Procházka likely waiting in the wings for the victor following his devastating knockout against Dominick Reyes, “Rocket” will seemingly need to record another win before booking his place opposite the champ. Having made his availability for a December matchup clear during Smith’s Octagon interview, it seems likely we’ll see Rakić and “Lionheart” clash for the second time.
Do you think Anthony Smith deserves more respect for his recent performances?