Magomed Ankalaev has two names in mind for his next fight after his big win over Ion Cutelaba at UFC 254.
After their first fight back in February ended in controversy, Ankalaev made sure that the result was beyond doubt during their rematch as he viciously knocked Cutelaba out to take his current win streak in the Ultimate Fighting Championship to five.
In the immediate aftermath of his biggest career win thus far, Ankalaev was quick to speak out about who he wants to fight next, as reported by MMA Junkie.
“I’d love to fight a top-five fighter,” Ankalaev said. “It would be interesting, and I would prefer to fight (Mauricio) ‘Shogun’ Rua or Anthony Smith. But other than that, anyone in the top five. I’m just happy that I can sleep well right now. I’m going to probably rest about two, three weeks and hopefully get a top-five opponent.”
“Shogun” has lost just once since late 2014, ironically to Anthony Smith in Hamburg, whereas “Lionheart” will attempt to put an end to his current two-fight skid when he battles Devin Clark next month.
However, as recently as September, Smith raised concerns over his long-term physical and mental health during an interview where he discussed the effects of his defeat to Aleksandar Rakic.
“It’s not good,” he said when asked about the state of his leg, which took a significant amount of punishment in the fight. “It’s not good at all. I’m still on crutches, so there’s that.
“If I’m being really honest with you guys, I’m not doing well,” Smith added, opening up on his mental state. “I’m super disappointed. I couldn’t get out of bed on Sunday. They had to send people from the [UFC Performance Institute] to my hotel room and drug me up and put a bunch of anti-inflammatory creams and big compression ice machines [on me]. It was like I had a whole f**king team in my room.
“It’s a little bit better today,” Smith continued. “There’s an occult fracture on my fibula head, so that’s cool. It sounds bad, but it’s not a huge deal actually. In four to six weeks it will be fine.”
Now that we’re almost two months on from that quote, Smith’s fans are hoping that he can start to get back to winning ways sooner rather than later. Perhaps he’ll have the chance against Magomed Ankalaev.