Former UFC light heavyweight title challenger Anthony Smith believes he’s quite close to another shot at the division’s ultimate prize.
Smith, who lost a decision to Jon Jones in a light heavyweight title fight in 2019, is currently riding a TKO loss to Glover Teixeira. However, after Jones vacated the light heavyweight title to move up to heavyweight, the former title challenger sees a clear path back to the championship, despite suffering a setback in his last outing.
This weekend, in the main event of UFC Vegas 8, Smith will take on Aleksander Rakic. If he wins that fight, he believes he’ll be well positioned for a fight with the winner of an upcoming fight between Teixeira and Thiago Santos. A win against either of those men, by his estimation, could earn him a shot at the winner of the upcoming fight between Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz, who will battle for the vacant light heavyweight title at UFC 253.
“I think we’re gonna have a big opportunity coming our way afterwards,” Smith told MMA on Sirius XM (via MMA News). “The division kind of…it’s opened up, obviously, a lot. There’s a lot of interesting matchups that we’re going to be talking about.
“A title shot,” Smith added when asked what’s on the line in his Saturday night fight with Rakic. “I think that, obviously, a loss sets me way back, but a win puts me right back into title contention. I’m probably going to have to win one more, which is why that Thiago Santos-Glover Teixeira fight is so interesting to me.
“Not only do I get to avenge or have the opportunity to avenge one of my losses—because I’ve got losses to both of those guys—those are both fights that I would love to have back. So that’s huge. And then you beat one of those guys, there’s no one else in front of me. That opens everything wide. That opens everything up, so it’s a big one.”
What do you think will be next for Anthony Smith if he gets by Aleksandar Rakic this weekend?