UFC light heavyweight Aleksandar Rakić has a pretty stern message for fellow contender and former opponent Anthony Smith.
Rakić, who currently sits at #3 in the 205-pound rankings, defeated Smith in a UFC Fight Night main event last August. After following that win with a victory over Thiago Santos at UFC 259 earlier this year, “Rocket” firmly entered the title conversation.
The Austrian will look to secure his first championship opportunity and extend his promotional record to 7-1, the only blemish of which was a controversial split decision to Volkan Oezdemir when he returns to action in 2022. It was recently confirmed that Rakić will face former champion Jan Blachowicz in the headlining clash of the UFC’s March 26 card.
Following the announcement, Rakić spoke to MMA News’ James Lynch to discuss his upcoming fight with the Polish behemoth, his rivalry with Czech knockout artist Jiří Procházka, his experience training with Khamzat Chimaev, and his feud with former opponent Smith.
Since falling to Rakić last year, Smith has been back to his best, collecting submission victories over Devin Clark and Ryan Spann, and a TKO over Jimmy Crute. Following his triumph over “Superman” Spann in a September main event, “Lionheart” made it clear he wanted to run it back with Rakić.
After the European star accepted the challenge in minutes, it appeared the pair could be set for a second Octagon meeting this month. Given his already-longer-than-desired layoff, it was no surprise to see “Rocket” eager to fit a second fight into 2021. But Rakić’s wish to be booked opposite Smith in the December 18 main event wasn’t granted.
The matchup collapsed after a knee injury ruled Smith out for the rest of the year. Despite that, “Lionheart” hasn’t shied away from giving his two cents on the current light heavyweight landscape. From expressing his worry over getting “left in the cold” at 205 pounds to suggesting it “would suck” to see Rakić given the Blachowicz fight, the former title challenger isn’t letting his time on the sidelines be a quiet period.
That’s seemingly infuriating for Rakić, who appears to be sick of hearing the sound of his light heavyweight peer’s voice. The Austrian addressed Smith’s comments in his interview with MMA News, and in much harsher terms, asked him to zip it.
“I mean, he was challenging me after his last fight. I immediately said yes for December, and this guy couldn’t make it. He’s injured, you know, and he’s now talking behind screens and behind the phones, and talking and talking, and saying, ‘This (is) hurting my feelings, that I can see that Rakić is gonna fight Blachowicz.’ I don’t care about him and his feelings.
“Why weren’t you ready? Shut the fuck up, get healthy, win another fight, and then we’re gonna talk. That’s it. I have nothing to say about him… I respect this guy. I think he won three after our fight. I respect him as a martial artist. But he is talking too much and I don’t like that,” Rakić told MMA News.
UFC Fight Night: Rakić vs. Blachowicz
Rakić will look to put Smith to the back of his mind in the coming weeks as he prepares for perhaps the most important fight of his career. In his second UFC main event, the 29-year-old will be looking to stake his claim for a shot at gold, which is currently held by veteran Glover Teixeira.
But in his way will be a tough man with a point to prove. Blachowicz held the light heavyweight title for over a year until dropping it to Teixeira in the UFC 267 main event a couple of months ago. Prior to his upset defeat to the Brazilian, the Pole defended the strap by handing middleweight king Israel Adesanya his first setback in professional MMA.
While Blachowicz will be looking to rebound and make his way back towards the belt, possibly for redemption against Teixeira should he defend the gold against Procházka, Rakić will aim to scale the 205-pound mountain for the first time in 2022, a journey that must go through Blachowicz on March 26.
Who do you think will emerge victorious in the March 26 main event, Aleksandar Rakić or Jan Blachowicz?