At UFC 235 earlier this year, Anthony Smith saw his run come to an abrupt halt after Jon Jones defeated him after five rounds of action to retain his Light Heavyweight title (see it again here). Despite going the distance with perhaps the best-pound-for pound fighter in the world, Smith is still embarrassed by his output.
“I didn’t fight anywhere close to what I am capable of, and that is what is so frustrating. I am so much better than that and I was so much better than that in training camp. It’s not that Jon did anything I wasn’t expecting,” explained Smith on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show.
Up until facing Jones, Smith was running right through former champions and rising contenders to the tune of three straight finishes against Mauricio Rua, Rashad Evans and Volkan Oezdemir. Going back even further, all six of his previous wins had come via stoppage.
That’s why “Lionheart” says he can’t get over his lack of output against “Bones.”
“He did everything I expected him to do and he didn’t do anything I wasn’t ready for. That’s what’s frustrating because I am better than that. I am way better than that. That’s what drives me crazy is that I didn’t even give myself a shot at it,” he added.
“That’s what keeps me up. I feel like I am walking around naked all the time. It’s the only way I can explain it. I’m just embarrassed. It consumes me.”
To remind himself of the embarrassment, Smith says he has watched the fight numerous times, saying he deserves the self-punishment and wants to remind himself of the pain he doesn’t ever want to feel again.
With a renewed focus, Smith will look to get back in the win column this Saturday (June 1, 2019) against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC Fight Night 153 in Stockholm, Sweden.
“It’s not even about Gus, or winning and losing. It’s not even about getting back to the title. I’m not sitting here saying I don’t want to win, that’s not what I’m saying. I haven’t even considered the fight a win vs lose situation,” he explained.
“Because honestly I don’t give a shit what happens, I just want to perform. I want to go in there and just … I need to destroy something to get this feeling out of my stomach. This burning, sick feeling that I can’t shake. The only way I am going to do that is I got to let it out on somebody because I wasn’t able to let it out on Jon.”
You’ve been put on notice, Alex.
For Gustafsson, it’s his opportunity to get back in the winner’s circle after also coming up short against Jones in his previous fight in what was his second opportunity to take down the dominant 205-pound king.