After their first fight did not go his way, Anthony Smith believes if he had another fight against light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, things would go differently than the first. At UFC 235 in March of 2019, Jones defeated Smith by unanimous decision in what was the first attempt at UFC gold for “Lionheart” after moving up from the middleweight division.
Following his fight against Jones, Smith would defeat two-time title challenger Alexander Gustafsson by fourth-round submission. After taking some time away due to surgeries, Smith is scheduled to return and face Glover Teixiera on April 25 which is supposed to take place in Lincoln, Nebraska but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the location and venue are up in the air as of now.
As he works to get back to another title shot, Smith remains focused and confident that he can beat Jones. In an exclusive interview with BJPenn.com, Smith said if a rematch were to happen between the two, he’s confident things would be much different.
“I don’t want to sit here and make excuses but I think it’s clear to everyone from the outside that I wasn’t me when I was in there. I think just being me is enough, I really do. Honestly, I’ve gotten a lot better since then and I just need to go in and be myself and I wasn’t myself in there and I didn’t have the ability to be myself in there. I think just that pressure and that ability to walk forward and just put that press on Jon is my biggest asset.”
Recognizing that he just needs to go back to being himself inside the Octagon, Smith said that Jon Jones knows who he is and what he’s capable of, and cites that he’s undefeated in rematches in his career.
“Jon had a harder time taking me down than he had a lot of people. I didn’t have any problem being on the ground with Jon Jones and he knows that. His jiu-jitsu knows me, like, we know each other. There’s a reason Jon didn’t engage in the grappling with me. But I think just keep putting the pressure on, and I don’t give a s**t with anybody says, I have the power in either hand to shut anybody off. It’s just I never got to that opportunity with Jon Jones. Again, I’m not going to make any excuses, but I feel like I got 25 minutes of data on Jon Jones and he didn’t get a whole lot out of me, and I think that’s an advantage. I’ve never lost a rematch, ever, and I don’t plan for it to start with Jon Jones.”
Jones most recently competed against Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 and won by unanimous decision in a fight that could’ve gone either way, but the champion kept his title. Jones found himself in legal trouble on Thursday morning and while there’s unlikely to be any immediate punishment by the UFC, there’s now an opportunity for light heavyweight contenders like Anthony Smith to make a statement at the top of the division.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/26/2020