Back in 2007, Matt Serra pulled off the biggest upset in mixed marital arts (MMA) history by knocking out then-Welterweight champion Georges St Pierre at UFC 69 in the very first round, making those that dared put any money down on the huge underdog very happy.
That Cinderella story still stands today as one of the most shocking moments in MMA 12 years later. Having a front row seat, Greg Jackson knows the dangers of taking a fighter lightly, as the Serra contest was Greg’s first fight cornering “Rush.”
That’s why Jackson and Co. are taking Anthony Smith very seriously ahead of “Lionheart’s” title fight against Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones at the upcoming UFC 235 pay-per-view (PPV) event on March 2, 2019 in Las Vegas.
“The dangerous thing about Anthony Smith is that has nothing to lose so he can really open up and risk stuff,” said Jackson on a recent edition of The MMA Hour.
“Remember, I have seen some serious upsets. One of the very first times I started working with Georges St-Pierre, I worked with him a little bit but his head coach at the time, Victor, let me be in the corner when we lost to Matt Serra, when he knocked him out. I mean that was not supposed to happen at all. Right? Serra went on the reality show and was one of the best Cinderella stories I have ever seen,” added Jackson.
“I’ve been there when the person that was supposed to dominate gets beaten. And that to me is the biggest deal is that the fearlessness, that kind of danger that he presents there. I actually trained Anthony Smith and I know he’s a great fighter and very capable. So he is a guy, a sleeper guy that we have to take very seriously. If we don't we can get in trouble very quickly. So keeping that in mind, that is the biggest challenge for this fight is that he has nothing to lose.”
Still, Jackson feels he and the rest of the training staff at Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA have once again put together a great gameplan to take down Smith and hold on to the 205-pound strap. Furthermore, Jackson is encouraged by the fact that despite running all over the division, Jones is only getting better.
“I actually think quite a bit more (room to improve). Working with him as often as I do, and getting to know him not just as a person but technically, as well, he actually has a lot more to go,” said Greg.
“Which is scary, I think in a lot of ways. He reminds me of Sugar Ray Robinson in that anytime he got a rematch with somebody it was shorter. He just has this internal fight IQ computer that starts to really download stuff and he learns, studies and gets better each and every time. If you give Jon a rematch, you’re in a lot of trouble.”
Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson can attest to that.
With a win over Smith, Jones looks to keep active in 2019 in order to make up for lost time. Should he mow over the rest of the contenders in his weight class, don’t be surprised to see him move up to Heavyweight to conquer new territory in 2020.