In recent years, title challengers in the 205-pound light heavyweight division have come few and far between. As of right now, Anthony Smith feels he’s the very clear next challenge to the once again champion, Jon Jones.
At UFC 232 this past Saturday night, Jones regained the division’s title by defeating his old foe, Alexander Gustafsson via third-round TKO.
The fight acted as Jones’ first since July 2017.
Since that time, middleweight veteran Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith had moved up to the light heavyweight division and started making instant waves by knocking out former champions with ease.
Currently riding a three-fight winning streak with his most recent win coming over former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir, Smith believes now is his time to challenge Jones.
“I’m the only legitimate threat to Jon Jones,” Smith told FloCombat. “I’m the only one that’s even got the capability of beating Jon Jones in the entire division. I think that’s gotta be next. I think I’m the next guy.
“There’s no one else out there who’s going to give Jon a fight. There’s no one who’s going to threaten him and there’s no one anyone else wants to see him against. Jon fought well [against Gustafsson], he really did, but he looked human. That’s one of my biggest takeaways from that. He didn’t look special to me and I don’t know if that’s my own ego where I’m looking at Jon as this phenomenal, unstoppable puzzle like a lot of people do.
“I see a lot of places to take advantage of Jon and I saw a lot of places on Saturday.”
At UFC 232, Smith was working the desk as an analyst for the first time. On the post-fight show, he and Jones had a brief back and forth during Jones’ post-fight interview which started with Smith asking if Jones was doing anything in July.
“I will fight him tomorrow,” Smith said. “July just sounded cool, you know, with International Fight Week. Also, I thought Jon had a bunch of commission sh*t he had to clear up, so that was just something off the cuff I said. July in Vegas just sounded cool. I will fight Jon Jones tomorrow.
“If he’s still in shape and can make 205, we can go at it this weekend. I don’t care. I will fight Jon Jones any time, anywhere, any place, it doesn’t matter. I am ready.”
Of course, the ‘commission sh*t’ that Smith eludes to is in regards to the controversy that built up to UFC 232 when Jones got the whole event relocated due to the Nevada State Athletic Commission not licensing him to fight.
Because of that whole scenario accompanied by Jones’ past with drug test failures, it puts things going forward into question with the champion. However, Smith couldn’t care less.
“What I do know is Jon Jones has steroids in his system,” Smith stated. “That’s black and white and I think it’s absolute bullsh*t. On the flipside, I’ll fight him regardless. It doesn’t matter to me. I think performance-enhancing drugs, it enhances your f*cking performance but Jon wouldn’t be the only fighter I’ve fought who would be on PEDs. I’m not naïve enough to think everybody I’ve fought so far has been clean, ’cause I don’t believe that either.
“At the end of the day, I want to fight Jon Jones. I think I’m the only one who can beat Jon Jones. I think I’m the guy who can. I think I’m the only person in the whole f*cking division who can be competitive with him. I think he’ll walk through everybody else. I really do. I just think I have the right style and the right mentality and I don’t give a sh*t what’s in his blood. If Jon and I were fighting and Dana White called me five days before the fight and said Jon popped, I would ask him not to tell anybody. I’ll fight him anyways because I’m that confident that I can beat Jones. Yes, I think he’s a cheater. Yes, I think he’s dirty. Yes, I’ll fight him anyways.”
Is Jon Jones vs Anthony Smith the fight to make at light heavyweight?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/2/2018