Former UFC light heavyweight title contender Anthony Smith is looking for a return fight. And he may just have it.
Smith recently rebounded from his title loss to Jon Jones by submitting Alexander Gustafsson in June. But the sting of his last defeat still lingers. “Lionheart” was soundly dominated over the course of five rounds in the main event of March’s UFC 235.
It was a disappointing result, yet it did not overshadow his unlikely run to title contention. Smith ditched a draining cut to middleweight and moved up to 205 pounds to stellar results. He knocked out Rashad Evans and Shogun Rua before submitting Volkan Oezdemir to cap off an insane 2018.
After the loss to Jones, however, Smith rebounded quite effectively. But he still has much ground to regain in the suddenly buzzing light heavyweight division. A potential beef with former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold fell apart when Rockhold was knocked out by Jan Blachowicz last weekend.
A New Rivalry With Anderson
So “Lionheart” has seemingly shifted focus to No. 8-ranked Corey Anderson. In a recent interview with Submission Radio (via MMA Fighting), Smith claimed Anderson has been ducking him for quite some time:
“He’s just mad. He’s just always talking sh*t, he’s like trying to take a page out of Luke Rockhold’s book. I haven’t done anything to Corey expect for clean up his f*cking mess.
“They offered me a fight with Corey Anderson in Lincoln, Nebraska. He turned it down because he wasn’t ready. Then not long after that, I took a fight with Shogun, who they offered to him first and he turned it down, so then I took it because he wouldn’t. Then Glover Teixeira needed an opponent like a week later, and he takes that fight. So, he turns down me, he turns down Shogun, and then takes Glover because that’s a fight that in his head he feels he can win. He won’t take a fight with anybody that he’s not 100 percent sure he can beat. So, he goes in against a guy who’s known to be taken down and held there, and wins the fight and wants to talk sh*t like he’s the best in the world.”
Turn Down For Gus?
Smith said he then brushed off Anderson’s supposed denials to face him. He detailed a run-in where Anderson would not face him in a locker room. Smith claims Anderson turned down another fight that he ultimately took against Alexander Gustafsson. Smith went as far as to claim Anderson even requested it after he turned it down and Smith took it:
“Alright, fine. Whatever, not a big deal. Then I didn’t hear anything from Corey. So, because we’re in the god damn locker room and he’s feeling really god damn stupid because he knows that I know all that stuff, so he won’t even look at me. Then they offer him the Gus fight after I fight Jon Jones, and he won’t take it.
“So, then I take it, and he tries to go back and say, ‘No, no, no, no, I’ll take it now, I’ll take it now’. I was like, it’s too late, I already signed it, you idiot. Here I am cleaning up your god damn mess again. Like, fine. So, from now on I hope they offer Corey Anderson the title shot, because it means I’ll probably end up with it.”
Smith shifted focus to Anderson’s wrestling-heavy fighting style. He claimed no one wanted to watch him ‘hump someone’s leg’:
“Like, I’m not saying be a company guy and suck Dana’s d*ck or anything, but be a god damn fighter. And if you have a style that’s kind of dependent on winning decisions, then just count on winning a hell lot more of them, cause that’s just how the game goes. No one wants to watch you f*cking dry hump someone’s leg for 15 minutes, unless they’re a big jiu-jitsu fan. No one wants to see it. And I’m a jiu-jitsu guy at heart, so I just don’t know what it is about me that rubs some of these guys the wrong way.”
Anderson Responds With Fire
Anderson doesn’t agree with that assessment of the situation, however, posting a series of Tweets in response to Smith earlier today. In them, he claimed Smith simply spouted off with a series of lies that he chronicled online:
So someone has to be lying in these blossoming rivalry. Well, unless both top-ranked light heavyweights were scared to look in each other’s direction.
Based on their respective bodies of work to this point, that seems unlikely. As Anderson claims, he’s ready to dance with Smith soon. This seems to have enough smoke behind it that the UFC may book the bout in the coming months. If and when they do, it should feature quite the build-up.
Who are you picking in this growing light heavyweight grudge match?