Anthony Smith doesn’t believe losing to him should warrant the retirement of any fighter, including Alexander Gustafsson.
In the main event of UFC Stockholm, Anthony Smith submitted Gustafsson in the fourth round via rear-naked choke and, in effect, sent Gustafsson into retirement. Smith entered the fight as a sizable underdog and, as has been a trend recently with Smith since moving up to light heavyweight, many people wrote him off. But Anthony Smith knows better than anyone the work he has put in to reach the level of performance he is currently operating at, so a loss to him is not at all indicative of whether or not a fighter can still perform at the highest level, he believes: (transcript via MMA Junkie):
“I just hope that he doesn’t look at a loss to me as something super negative, because I think people are having a hard time getting used to me being at the top,” Smith said of Gustafsson. “And I don’t think me beating him is a reflection of him falling off the wagon or losing his edge, or not being good anymore. I’m just not going to be turned away. I hope that he can look at it like that.”
Smith added that his assessment of just how much Gustafsson has left in him was gathered with first-hand experience derived from the UFC Stockholm main event. And before Gustfasson splits with the sport, Anthony Smith wanted Gustafsson to know something that millions have heard after an unexpected breakup:
“It sounds silly, but it’s not you, it’s me,” Smith reassured.
Anthony Smith further expressed his respect for Gustafsson by paying him the ultimate compliment:
“I think it’s absolutely the biggest (win) of my career, probably the one I’m most proud of, just because of what happened in my last fight,” Smith said. “Typically, guys that come off of title losses don’t bounce back like that.”
Both Smith and Gustafsson lost to Jon Jones while contesting for the light heavyweight championship prior to the UFC Stockholm main event. And unfortunately, only one of them was able to rebound with a spring towards redemption.
Do you believe that Alexander Gustafsson’s retirement was influenced by his opinion of Anthony Smith’s skill level?