Earlier this month, in the main event of UFC Stockholm, Anthony Smith picked up arguably the biggest win of his MMA career, submitting three-time light heavyweight title challenger Alexander Gustafsson. In the moments after this loss, Gustafsson announced his plan to retire from MMA — which is why Luke Rockhold didn’t find Smith’s win very impressive.
Rockhold has previously been very critical of Smith’s ability, and saw nothing special in his defeat of Gustafsson, who had seemingly lost his will to fight.
“It looked like he retired before that fight started, a long time before,” Luke Rockhold told Submission Radio, speaking of Alexander Gustafsson (transcript via MMA Fighting). “. . . So, I don’t know where his head’s at. His head wasn’t there, he had a family and he just… he found an easy exit in Stockholm and found a way out in the fight obviously.
“He had a great career, put up some amazing fights, pushed DC to a split decision and Jon Jones to a split decision. The guy made his mark. Good for him, good for him. But he didn’t come to fight that night, I’ll tell you that.
“My feelings have not changed whatsoever. Gus didn’t come to fight. Anybody who has any time for the sport could see that he didn’t do a damn thing in that fight and he found a way out when the opportunity presented itself. It was an easy exit for him. So, that’s that. Obviously, the guy can fight. He could fight, but he just doesn’t want it anymore.”
This comment is particularly relevant at present, as Luke Rockhold is gearing up for his debut in the light heavyweight division. He’ll make this debut against Poland’s Jan Blachowicz at UFC 239 on July 6, and could well fight himself scheduled for a grudge match with Anthony Smith down the road if he’s victorious.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/27/2019.