Anthony Smith is finding benefits in fighting down the rankings.
Ever since his defeats to Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic last year, Smith has fought the younger and lower-ranked fighters in his division as he emerged victorious over Devin Clark and Jimmy Crute.
His next opponent is another lower-ranked and upcoming fighter in Ryan Spann who he will face in the UFC Vegas 37 headliner next weekend.
And as far as “Lionheart” is concerned, Spann offers nothing out of the ordinary to him especially compared to the specialists higher up in the division.
“Essentially that’s what it came down to, is, at the top of every division you have guys who are specialists, right? And guys who are just really good at keeping the fight in their kind of arena,” Smith said (via MMA Fighting). “And the rest of the division is — I know Ryan Spann takes it as disrespect when I say that there’s nothing that stands out about him. I’m not saying he’s not good. I’m just saying he’s not an Olympic medalist wrestler, he’s not a multiple-time world champion grappler, he’s not 150-1 as a kickboxer. He doesn’t do one thing overly better than the rest of his skills, so I don’t have to worry about sh*t when I’m in training camp.
“We just have to go in and we evaluate the places that he’s dangerous, and then I just try to sharpen my sword the best I can, and that’s the best part about this. When you’re fighting guys like Rakic, the thing that stands out about Rakic is he’s a monster kicker. I mean, he out-kicked Thiago Santos — nobody does that. He battered my leg with two leg kicks to where I couldn’t barely stand. You’ve got a guy like Glover who’s got a nasty left hook and his jiu-jitsu is f*cking fire. You’ve got Jan Blachowicz, crazy top game, really crazy power in his left hands. There’s things like that on all those guys.”
When it comes to his recent opponents though, Smith doesn’t have to worry about any specialties. In turn, he is able to train freely and get the best version of himself.
“You can kind of figure out what their thing is,” Smith continued. “Jimmy Crute doesn’t have that thing, Devin Clark doesn’t have that thing, and Ryan Spann doesn’t have that thing.
“So I can just train freely and just try to be as good as I can. So being in that position and fighting down in the rankings a little bit has allowed me to do that and just focus on myself.”