Thursday, August 18, 2022

Anthony Smith: Magomed Ankalaev Isn’t “2nd Coming Of Jesus”

UFC light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith thinks the credit that Magomed Ankalaev has received far outweighs what he deserves.

Smith and Ankalaev will open up the main card at UFC 277 tonight in Dallas, TX. The winner could potentially leapfrog Jan Blachowicz for a title shot with an impressive performance.

Smith is one of the few MMA analysts who hasn’t been in awe of Ankalaev’s rise in the light heavyweight division. While he acknowledges that Ankalaev is worthy of some praise, he thinks that it isn’t to the level of a potential future light heavyweight champion.

Smith isn’t scared of Ankalaev and plans to be the one to expose the 17-1 Ankalaev tonight.

Anthony Smith Downplays Media Hype Behind Magomed Ankalaev

Anthony Smith, Magomed Ankalaev
Anthony Smith, Magomed Ankalaev (Image Credits: Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News & Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

During his UFC 277 pre-fight media day, Smith criticized how many fans and pundits have looked at Ankalaev’s recent victories.

“They’re talking about him like he’s the second coming of Jesus,” Smith said. “And he’s gonna rip my head off my shoulders and feed it to the crowd. That’s not a guy who should have Paul Craig hanging around for 15 minutes. He was in kind of a lackluster [fight] with Thiago Santos… he managed to make a guy like Thiago Santos boring. It takes a special individual to be able to do that, so I don’t for a second discredit the things he’s able to do, I’m also not of the belief that Thiago Santos is the same guy we’re used to seeing. Maybe I’ll figure it out on Saturday night, we’ll see. As of right now, I just don’t see it.”

Smith is the most seasoned veteran that Ankalaev has faced so far in his career. He has challenged for the title against Jon Jones and faced off against former champions such as Glover Teixeira and Shogun Rua.

Smith has rebounded from back-to-back losses to Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakić with three straight wins. He most recently finished Ryan Spann in a first-round submission last September.

Ankalaev has won eight in a row since a loss to Paul Craig earlier in his career. He most recently defeated Volkan Oezdemir and Thiago Santos in a pair of unanimous decision victories.

Smith feels that Ankalaev provides a lot of challenges for him, but nothing he hasn’t faced yet in his 52-fight career.

Do you agree with Anthony Smith?

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