Anthony Smith has never been a fighter who tries to overthink his way into victories but that’s exactly what he attempted with his past two performances.
Known throughout his career for an aggressive, march forward style that typically put opponents away in brutal fashion, Smith started to add a few new layers to his game as he got closer and closer to title contention.
The changes paid off in his submission win against Volkan Oezdemir to earn the title shot but then Smith failed to pull the trigger in his opportunity to become UFC light heavyweight champion in a battle against Jon Jones back in March.
Now he’s gone back to the attitude that earned him vicious knockouts of two former UFC champions in Rashad Evans and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and he hopes for a similar result against Alexander Gustafsson this weekend in Sweden.
“I think just letting me go in and fight off my instincts and doing what I feel is right at the time, is the best formula,” Smith explained ahead of his main event bout. “We’ve just got to figure out how we do that long term. You can’t do that your whole career. You can’t not give a s—t your whole career. It’s easy to not give a s—t when no one else cares.
“No one expects me to win this fight. I took it too early and Gus is too good and he was injured in the Jon fight and that’s why he didn’t perform. I think it’s funny how everyone was quick to make excuses for why he got finished but I just suck.”
While Smith is still tinkering with the best possible formula to get him those high profile wins in the future, he believes what got him to the title shot in the first place is the way to approach his upcoming showdown with Gustafsson, especially coming off the loss to Jones.
“If you look at my record and see any time I’ve lost, I fight almost immediately afterwards. Cause I have to shake it, I have to get rid of it. I always come back better,” Smith said. “I’m hungrier and I’m angry and when I don’t give a f—k, that’s when I’m most dangerous. I don’t care. I’m going to go in there, I’m going to do what I do and whatever happens is going to happen.
“I’m going to march across the cage, I’m going to put pressure on him, he’s going to run from me for 25 minutes if I let him. I’m going to swing hammers the whole time. If he gets too close, I’m going to drag him to the ground and if he gets away, I’ll do it again. That’s it. That’s the game plan. I’ll react to all the other s—t.”
Keeping it simple is what earned Smith the reputation as one of the most devastating finishers in the sport and he truly believes that will carry him to victory this weekend.
“As far as a black and white game plan, that’s it,” Smith said. “March across the Octagon, put pressure on him and swing hammers. That’s it.”