Anthony Smith believes that the UFC is holding off on booking a Light Heavyweight title fight, because they want to see how his fight pans out first.
‘Lionheart‘ will be taking on Magomed Ankalaev this Saturday at UFC 277. Smith is currently the fifth ranked fighter in the division, while Ankalaev is the fourth ranked fighter and currently on an eight fight win streak.
Light Heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka, has recently accepted Glover Teixeira’s offer to run their title fight back, claiming that it wasn’t a good enough performance and he still had more to prove after their first fight. Smith doesn’t quite buy into that just yet.
Anthony Smith believes that this fight with Ankalaev will determine who the number one contender in the Light Heavyweight division is.
“[UFC President] Dana [White’s] already said that this is the No. 1 contender fight, so the winner gets a title shot, and I think the fact that they haven’t re-booked Glover and Jiri – or Jan Blachowicz vs. Jiri, I think that’s them waiting what happens with Ankalaev and I,” Smith said. “If we have a stinker and it sucks, I think they’ll slide one of those guys in. But if I think we go out and do what Ankalaev and I can do, I think the winner of this fight gets a title shot no matter what.” (Transcribed by MMAFighting)
Smith claims that this fight will be a very competitive, fun fight to watch and not a “snoozer”. Smith challenged for the title back at UFC 235 in 2019. He lost that fight to Jon Jones in a one sided, five round beatdown. Since that loss, Smith has been on a tear, winning four of his last six fights. His only other defeats came by the hands of Glover Teixeira and Aleksander Rakic. Teixeira went on to become the oldest first time champion in UFC history, and Rakic looks like he may be a champion, or at the very least a top contender for the rest of his career.
A win for either Smith or Ankalaev may just get them a fight with Prochazka, but most likely will get them a fight with Jan Blachowicz in the near future. Only time will tell if Dana was true to his words, or if he will book Teixeira vs Prochazka once again.