Anthony Smith wanted to make a statement against Ryan Spann on Saturday—and he did it in emphatic style.
Smith notched up his third successive win by defeating Spann via first-round submission in the main event of UFC Vegas 37. The 33-year-old dropped Spann multiple times before sinking in a rear-naked choke to earn his eighteenth career submission victory and a Fight of the Night bonus.
Against Spann, Smith had more to fight for than just title contention. Perhaps as importantly, he wanted to put respect back on his name, and Spann in his place, for the disrespect shown by his opponent leading into the fight.
Immediately after releasing Spann from his rear-naked choke, a fired-up Smith let his pent-up emotions fly, dispensing some choice words to his opponent before the duo were held apart by security. Once tensions simmered down, and Spann offered his respect to Smith, the duo embraced, squashing the beef then and there.
Anthony Smith Explains His Emotional Reaction To Spann’s Comments
Their beef may now be squashed, but Smith still had some words for Spann at the UFC Vegas 37 post-fight press conference. “Lionheart” revealed that he came into the bout carrying a fair amount of pent-up anger thanks to Spann’s comments.
“Oh, I was holding a lot of that shit back. It really pissed me off. I just didn’t want him to know that,” said Smith.
As a veteran of 52 professional MMA fights, Smith has unquestionably put in the hard yards to get where he is today. And he said that’s why Spann’s disrespect cut so deep.
“And maybe this is gonna sound arrogant or pretentious, but I have earned the respect from my peers,” said Smith. “I put a lot of work into this game. I’ve sacrificed my entire adult life to be here, to be in the position I’m sitting in right now. That’s time with my kids, that’s friendships, that’s life opportunities. I could’ve been a goddamn surgeon by now, you know what I mean? I’ve put a lifetime of work into this, and most of my peers respect me.”
Finally, Anthony made it clear why Spann’s comments were so disrespectful.
“And that’s all I ask. You don’t have to like me, we don’t have to get along, we don’t have to be friends. You can say you’re gonna kick my ass, and sometimes you might.
“But I think just respecting my journey is the only thing I ever expect from anybody. And he didn’t. Saying he doesn’t care what I’ve done, he doesn’t care about the main events, he doesn’t care who I’ve beaten, he doesn’t care about the bonuses—I bet he cares now.”