Last weekend, Anthony Smith established himself as one of the top contenders in the light heavyweight division by defeating Alexander Gustafsson — something only a few truly elite fighters have done before.
“Who else has done it? If you take Phil Davis out of it because that was a long time ago, who else has done it? Jon [Jones], ‘Rumble’ [Anthony Johnson] and D.C. [Daniel Cormier],” Smith told MMA Fighting. “That’s a pretty good group of guys to be mentioned with,” Smith told MMAFighting when speaking about his win. “At this point, I don’t know what else I’d have to do to answer any questions of my legitimacy. Honestly I don’t care. I’m just really happy that I’ve inserted myself among the top two guys in the world or three guys in the world if you keep D.C. in there.”
Ahead of this victory over Gustafsson, Anthony Smith exchanged quite a bit of trash talk with former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, who is set to debut in the light heavyweight division when he fights Jan Blachowicz at UFC 239 in July.
Having defeated Gustafsson, Smith believes he’s now moved past Rockhold, and that the former middleweight champ will have to earn the opportunity to fight him.
“It’s the same thing with [Luke] Rockhold, you want to talk all that s**t, now you’ve got to do your job. Now you’ve got to earn it,” Smith said. “I don’t owe you s**t. Now you’ve got to come to me and you’ve got to do something to deserve it. That’s a good position to be in.”
In the wake of his win over Gustafsson, Smith has also been called out by established light heavyweight contender Corey Anderson. He had similar words for this rival.
“Corey Anderson’s already on Twitter and Instagram talking s—t,” he said. “Come on dude, what is wrong with you? Do something to earn it. I’ve fought five times since you fought once. What are we doing here? At this point, it’s really easy. Do something to deserve it, b**ch. I’m sick of these guys talking s**t.
“You didn’t see me out here trash talking people and trying to talk my way into fights. I put my head down and I grinded and I earned it and I took the fights that no one else wanted and I took them when no one else wanted them.”
Having sustained a broken hand in his fight with Gustafsson, Anthony Smith now plans to take some time off and let his light heavyweight rivals fight amongst themselves for positioning in the division.
“Let Thiago [Santos] and Jon fight, we’ll see how that shakes out. Jan [Blachowicz] and f—k head gotta do their thing and then we’ll see. Johnny Walker’s out there, I think he’s gotta prove himself. I think he’s relatively untested. That’s why it’s good that I’m taking myself out for a little bit. I’m going to be down for a while so let’s see where the division shakes out and we’ll go from there.”
Who do you want to see Anthony Smith fight next?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/5/2019.