Anthony Smith drops focus on title fight with Alex Pereira ahead of UFC 301: ‘I was so obsessed with the belt’

Anthony drops focus on title fight with Anthony Smith after UFC 301 I became obsessed with it

Anthony Smith says he’s no longer blinded by becoming UFC champion ahead of his UFC 301 main card fight against Vitor Petrino.

Smith enters the fight as a massive underdog, as ‘Lionheart’ is coming off a TKO loss to Khalil Rountree. Anthony Smith is 1-3 in his last four fights, as his bout against Petrino is a pivotal one if he’s going to remain a contender.

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Ahead of his return at UFC 301, Smith says he’s no longer obsessed with the belt as he believes that was an anchor for him and didn’t allow him to fight freely.

“It’s just blinded me,” Smith told MMA Junkie. “I’m so obsessed with it. I had a really good conversation with Daniel Cormier earlier today, and that’s really what it was about – it consuming me. It’s good because you have to be selfish and you need to be completely dialed in to be successful at this level, but sometimes you can be so obsessed with it that it becomes a fault. I’m almost carrying an anchor with me. It changes the way I fight. It changes the way I think leading up to a fight. So I’m just done worrying about it. That doesn’t mean I don’t want it. I’m done consuming myself with it.”

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Smith is a +440 underdog, which implies an 18.5% chance of winning the fight. However, Smith has confidence he will pull off the upset and remind everyone he is still a top-ranked opponent at light heavyweight.

Anthony Smith plans to make a statement at UFC 301

Anthony Smith is facing Vitor Petrino, who called him out after his last win. Although Anthony Smith accepted his callout, he wants this fight to be a message to the young up-and-comers that he isn’t a stepping stone for them to get into the top-10 or top-five.

 “When I’m done here and on Sunday, the next young, up-and-coming 205er can pick somebody else to pick on. It’s a slight for sure. I’m not that upset about it, to be honest. It’s annoying, but I get it. I’ve been him before. I understand what he’s doing. He’s a young up-and-comer and picked an aging, broke down wounded lion in his mind. Of course he would. He thinks I’m on the downslope and I’ve got a big name and he doesn’t, so I get it. But it’s my job to prove him wrong,” Smith said.

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Smith is 37-19 as a pro and 12-9 in the UFC. He is 1-3 in his last four, with his lone win over that stretch being a split decision win over Ryan Spann.