One-time UFC light heavyweight title challenger, Anthony Smith has claimed he believes he will secure the first shot at division gold against recently minted undisputed kingpin, Jamahal Hill – after the duo saw their March 11. main event slot cancelled last year.

Initially scheduled to headline a Las Vegas event against Dana White’s Contender Series alum, Hill on March 11. in ‘Sin City’ – Smith saw the pairing shelved amid the light heavyweight title fight draw featuring Jan Blachowicz, and Magomed Ankalaev.

As a result, former champion, Glover Teixeira headlined UFC 283 earlier this month against the aforenoted, Hill in the former’s native Brazil, with the latter landing vacant title spoils courtesy of a unanimous decision win

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Initially, Hill was linked with both immediate title defenses against the pair of middleweight champion, Alex Pereira, and former light heavyweight best, Jiri Prochazka.

Anthony Smith remains confident he slides into the UFC title picture

And according to Smith, while Hill has yet to book his first outing in the weeks since his championship coronation, he believes he may slide in and fight for gold next – laying out the division circumstances.

“Glover (Teixeira) is out because he retired; (Aleksandar) Rakic is still hurt, I don’t know what’s going on with Jan (Blachowicz), and (Magomed) Ankalaev,” Anthony Smith told Michael Bisping on the Believe You Me podcast. “If I had to guess, I’m going to be very honest, I think it’s going to end up being me. Jiri said on Ariel (Helwani’s) show that he still needed some time, he wanted his body to get right, then Jamahal (Hill) had a response saying he wants to wait for Jiir, but he needs an answer by April. He wants to know, ‘Are you going or not?’ So, I think I’ll fight before then, and I don’t know if Jiri is going to be ready, I think he’s rushing it.” 

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“… I think he’s (Jiri Prochazka) optimistic, and for his sake, I hope he is able to fight, because I think he deserves it. He never lost the title. I would love to see Jamahal versus each other, but if it’s not Jiri, I think that I’m the next one to fight,” Anthony Smith explained. “I think I would be next in line.” (Transcribed by MMA Junkie)

Sidelined since UFC 277 back in July of last year, Nebraska veteran, Anthony Smith suffered an ankle injury en route to a second round ground strikes TKO loss to the above-mentioned, Magomed Ankalaev. 

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Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.