Anthony Smith will take part in the biggest fight of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career when he challenges Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, in the main event of UFC 235 on March 2, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“Lionheart” got on the fast track to the title shot after winning his first three fights at 205 pounds, all taking place in 2018. But when those wins (all finishes) are against the likes of Maurico Rua, Rashad Evans and Volkan Oezdemir, it’d be a crime to deny him his first-ever championship bout.
It’s because of his resume that Team “Bones” is not taking the challenger lightly.
“Tough. Just big balls to keep going. He has the ability to come back, I think the scariest thing about him is just that. As you saw in his last fight with Volkan (Oezdemir), he was behind in my mind, but he knows how to survive and find the right time to do something. I think he started hurting him with body shots and then he had the takedown there at the end,” said Mike Winkeljohn — Jon’s striking coach — on a recent appearance on The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting).
“I think it’s his ability, his mental toughness to survive and overcome that’s his greatest strength.”
While Smith has shown the toughness and grit to take out the best of them, at the end of the day Jones is simply better everywhere, says Wink.
“[Smith]’s good at a lot of things. It’s his depth and his long range punches, the problem with that is that Jon’s even longer,” he added. “He has the ability to throw punches at different times, his straight right hand is really, really effective especially in his counter mode against Jon. That’s what I’m worried about. And then he takes people down, there’s no doubt about it,” said the famed striking coach.
“I just think he’s going to have a hard night against Jon Jones, because I think Jon’s better everywhere. But I think his boxing skills are very tight. If I thought anything was going to be scary, it would be that. He’s definitely great everywhere, so we have to be on our toes, but he’s got to deal with Jon’s length and Jon’s ability to adapt.”
Indeed, Jones has proven to be on another level over the course of his near-mint career, running through the 205-pound weight class with relative ease. And despite an extended hiatus, Jones was able to come back and take out Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 last December, proving that he didn’t miss a beat (see it here).
Anyone think Smith can give Jones something he hasn’t seen before come fight night?