UFC light heavyweight Anthony Smith doesn’t believe his fellow contender Magomed Ankalaev is the “boogeyman” that he’s being made out to be.
It doesn’t feel like too long ago that the UFC’s 205-pound division was considered stale and unexciting. But in 2022, the weight class sits with an unlikely champion in Glover Teixeira, who provided one of last year’s most memorable moments, an entertaining number one contender and knockout artist in Jiří Procházka, and a host of promising up-and-comers.
One man leading the charge is Ankalaev. The Dagestani’s rise to the top has been stalled on a number of occasions. First was a submission loss to Paul Craig on debut, which came with 4:59 of the final round on the clock. Then, a bizarre two-fight series with Ion Cuțelaba slowed things down.
But after victories over Nikita Krylov and Volkan Oezdemir, and a triumphant first main event appearance versus Thiago Santos, Ankalaev finds himself on an eight-fight win streak, inside the top five, and within touching distance of a title shot.
While many, including his teammates and coaches, continue to sing Ankalaev’s praises and tout him as a future champion, one light heavyweight doesn’t believe the hype.
Smith “Not That Impressed” With Ankalaev
Sitting one place below Ankalaev at #5 on the light heavyweight ladder is Smith. “Lionheart,” a former title challenger and 52-fight MMA veteran, has shot back into contention with three straight wins, including two headlining successes against Ryan Spann and Devin Clark.
During a recent appearance on MMA Fighting’s The Fighter vs. The Writer, Smith assessed the latest addition to the upper echelons of the 205-pound division. While the 33-year-old acknowledged Ankalaev’s talents, he isn’t as impressed with the Russian as most are.
“He’s not the boogeyman that everyone keeps talking about,” claimed Smith. “I’ve been saying that for a long time. Is he good? One hundred percent! He’s solid, he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, he doesn’t have any glaring holes in his game at all, but he’s not the boogeyman that everyone made him out to be.
“People have been saying, ‘Anthony’s ducking him.’ I’m not ducking that dude, come on,” added Smith. “I’ve got 50 something fights. I’m not ducking anybody. I’m just not singing his praises because I’m not that impressed.” (h/t Sportskeeda)
Smith’s words certainly back up his previous statements. Following a callout from Paul Craig after the Scot’s memorable UFC London victory last month, “Lionheart” responded on Twitter by suggesting that whether it’s Craig or Ankalaev, the answer will always be “yes.”
What’s your take on Magomed Ankalaev? Do you agree with Anthony Smith?