Former light heavyweight title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith hasn’t been inside the Octagon since defeating Alexander Gustafsson in June of 2019, but there could be a return on the horizon for him.
Hosting his weekly show MMA Tonight on Sirius XM’s Fight Nation, Smith discussed his looming return to the Octagon and how he could have good news within the coming weeks.
“We got some things in the works that I imagine that here in the next week, we’re going to have some news for you guys.”
With the UFC heading back to broadcast television for UFC D.C. on ESPN this Saturday, Smith said he hopes the news about his next fight will be announced during the broadcast this weekend. Without giving up too much information, Smith would tell his co-host R.J. Clifford that the only thing holding back the fight was a location agreement.
“It’s not an opponent problem, it’s a venue problem. Opponent is locked in, it’s location [still being worked on].”
Recently the light heavyweight division has gotten busy with the bookings of champion Jon Jones set to defend his title against Dominick Reyes on February 8th and top contenders Corey Anderson and Jan Blachowicz set to face each other the following week on February 15. As one of the most recent title challengers to Jones, Smith would go on to give his opinion on the Anderson vs Blachowicz fight.
“I think it’s a silly fight to be honest. Both of those guys were offered fights with me in the last two, two-and-a-half weeks, both of them turned it down. I understand. I’m not going to give Jan any grief for turning the fight down, because he turned it down to chase Corey Anderson. I understand that, he’s got a loss to him, he wants to avenge that loss. Even post-fight [vs Anderson] he didn’t talk about me, he talked about Corey Anderson and he talked about Thiago Santos. I know better than anybody wanting to avenge a loss, so him wanting to get back to that and Corey being available and highly-ranked, makes sense.”
While Smith would be respectful towards Blachowicz, he didn’t shy away from his feelings about Corey Anderson, who he has no liking for.
“Corey Anderson is a coward. He had every opportunity in the world, he begged me for a fight when I already was matched with Jon Jones, after he beat Latifi. He was constantly talking shit, constantly calling me a middleweight that I’m not a real light heavyweight, all the trash talk we’ve already gone over.
He had the opportunity not once, not twice, but three times in the last month we’ll say, since his fight, and turned them all down. He passed up an opportunity to fight someone higher ranked than Jan, and didn’t want it. He could’ve fought the number-three guy, why is he going down to fight Jan? It puts me in a weird position because he was the next highly-ranked guy that was available, so where does that leave me? Now I’m going to have to go further down the ranks, which unlike Corey, I’m willing to do, because that’s my job.”
It appears Anthony Smith is close to returning and an announcement is looming, it also seems that the former title challenger will keep his eye on the fight between Blachowicz and Anderson, and he could be in line to face the winner of that fight following his return fight.
Who do you think Anthony Smith will face in his return?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 12/3/2019