Sunday, August 7, 2022

Smith On UFC 276 Main Event: It Wasn’t What Adesanya Promised

UFC light heavyweight Anthony Smith has given his take after middleweight titleholder Israel Adesanya delivered another comfortable defense this past weekend.

In Saturday’s UFC 276 main event, Adesanya maintained his unchallenged dominance at 185 pounds, cruising to a unanimous decision victory over Jared Cannonier. With the loss, “The Killa Gorilla” was added as the fifth name to a defense list that also features Robert Whittaker, Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, and Marvin Vettori.

But while “The Last Stylebender” put his evasive and technical striking on full display again en route to a comfortable championship retention, the International Fight Week headliner wasn’t the entertaining close to the event that many had anticipated.

Smith: Adesanya’s Performance Wasn’t As Advertised

While his rise towards the top in the UFC included memorable finishes of Derek Brunson and Brad Tavares, as well as a war with Kelvin Gastelum and title-winning knockout of Whittaker, Adesanya’s reign perhaps hasn’t followed suit when it comes to thrill.

Aside from a quick finish of Costa in Abu Dhabi, the champ has gone the distance in a rematch with Whittaker and two defenses against Romero and Vettori, with his fights against the Cuban and Italian being widely regarded as underwhelming.

A conclusion that’s left many adding Cannonier to the list of lackluster Adesanya main events wasn’t the result some were expecting at UFC 276 given the Nigerian-New Zealander’s pre-fight words, which saw him predict a victory similar to his 2020 triumph over “Borrachinha.”

During the UFC 276 ESPN post-show, Anthony Smith said that while Adesanya’s comfortable victory was impressive, it wasn’t the “awesome moment” he believed had been advertised beforehand; a failed promise that “Lionheart” thinks came from both sides of the headliner.

Anthony Smith
Anthony Smith (Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa)

“I would sit here, and I would shut up, and I would bow down to Israel Adesanya,” Smith said. “But don’t tell me that you’re gonna create some awesome moment, you wanna do something different β€” he talked about the chess match with Anderson Silva and the battle with Kelvin Gastelum, and that this one was gonna be something new and different. And it wasn’t. That’s okay, you don’t have to be special every single time. You’ve gotta get a dub and that’s it, that’s what pays the bills. I’m not mad about that.

“It’s just, you know, Cannonier talked about being the war master, and he was bringing this hell and fury with him, and we didn’t see it. And Izzy was gonna do something completely different, and wow us, and give us a special moment, and we didn’t get it,” Smith continued. “We got the normal, world-class, neutralizer Israel Adesanya, which is still one of the greatest fighters walking the planet right now. So, I don’t mean it in a negative way, it’s just not what I expected.”

While perhaps not as entertaining as many had hoped, Adesanya still extendd his reign in a fairly dominant fashion. The next stop on his road to greatness will seemingly be former kickboxing foe Alex Pereira.

Given how “Poatan” dispatched Sean Strickland on Saturday’s main card, as well as his criticism of the champ’s display in the T-Mobile Arena, it stands to reason that his title challenge will be more fan-friendly.

Do you agree with Anthony Smith’s assessment of Israel Adesanya’s performance?

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