Anthony Smith will be throwing caution to the wind later tonight (Sat., Aug. 29, 2020) at UFC Vegas 8 live on ESPN+ from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, as the former UFC title challenger returns from one of the worst losses of his career.
Smith, who meets rising light heavyweight contender Aleksandar Rakic in UFC Vegas 8’s main event, will be making his first Octagon appearance since suffering a TKO loss to veteran Glover Teixeira this past May. It wasn’t just an ordinary defeat for “Lionheart.” Teixeira battered him beyond belief and ended up knocking Smith’s teeth out in the process (highlights HERE).
Despite the damage sustained in that main event bout Smith is back in the saddle and eager to return to the light heavyweight win column.
“I heal super quick,” Smith told MMA Fighting. “Honestly, I wasn’t even that sore after the fight. I keep telling people it’s not as bad as you thought it was. It really wasn’t. If you watch it without sound and you don’t listen to the commentators and you don’t listen to the shots landing … we were the second show to happen during the pandemic so it was all new to everybody. That’s what fights sound like all the time.
“At the time, you guys are just hearing it for the first time. But when you’re in there, that’s what they sound like each and every time. Especially the people at home, they’re going ‘Jesus Christ, someone stop this’ and I’m like what are you talking about? Those aren’t even hard shots. It’s just what it sounds like.”
That bout opposite Teixeira was one of the worst losses of Smith’s career, but “Lionheart” tends to piece things back together coming off of defeat. After his TKO loss to Thiago Santos back in 2018 Smith went on a three-fight win streak to eventually lock down a light heavyweight title shot against Jon Jones. Following his loss to Jones, Smith got back into the 205-pound win column with a main event submission win over Alexander Gustafsson.
Simply put, “Lionheart” knows exactly how to pick himself back up and fix his in-cage issues.
“I’m telling you, this is going to sound nuts, too, but I wish I could have the same mentality I have going into my next fight after a loss going into every fight,” Smith explained. “That’s my goal right now. That’s what we’re trying to recreate. How do we keep the mentality that I have right now going into my next fight. Because I’m going to tell you that I feel exactly the same as I did with the [Alexander] Gustafsson fight. I don’t give a sh*t about Aleksander Rakic.
“It’s not about him. I couldn’t care less. I’ve never watched him fight. I sh*t you not, I’ve never seen Aleksander Rakic fight an entire fight. Never from beginning to end. I’ve seen clips obviously. We’ve been on the same cards together. He knocked out Jimi Manuwa the same night I was fighting Gustafsson so I catch it. But as far as sitting down and watching his fight, I’ve never watched him. I just don’t care. I’m focused on myself and it seems to be when I’m focused on myself and I’m not worried about what he’s going to do or where this puts me or what’s at stake, I don’t really give a sh*t. I don’t really feel any pressure. I’m like really excited and super pumped to get back in there.”
Smith, 32, hasn’t lost consecutive bouts since a three-fight skid all the way back in 2013. That string of misfortune forced “Lionheart” to dig deep and attempt to redefine his fighting career. He was able to do so by winning his next eight fights and landing back on the UFC roster just three years later.
It’s a testament to Smith’s persistence as a professional fighter and his willingness to put it all on the line when the pressure is highest.
“When I care less, I’m really hard to beat,” Smith said. “When I don’t care about winning and losing, I don’t know what it is, it’s the weirdest thing in the world. When I went into the Gustafsson fight, you should have seen the looks on these people’s faces when I said I didn’t come here to win. I don’t know what you guys expect but I didn’t come here to win. That’s not my goal. It’s not about wins and losses when I was in Sweden. I just wanted to perform and get that bad feeling out of my stomach. I just wanted to throw the f**k down. That was it.
“That’s kind of similar how I am now. I’m not really focused on beating Rakic. Honestly, he’s super dangerous so that’s kind of fun for me. I don’t know what it is. Maybe I’m crazy. I really get excited when guys are really dangerous. I don’t know if it’s that adrenaline feelinsmoithg or the fight itself, I don’t know. That’s really only the feelings I have towards him.”
Fortunately for Smith, a good performance this weekend at UFC Vegas 8 against Rakic will put him right back in contention as we approach the final months of 2020. And considering Jones relinquished his light heavyweight championship earlier this month “Lionheart” now has a more direct path to his second UFC title shot.
“I’m fresh out of f**ks to give and I couldn’t be happier,” Smith said. “I’m in such a good place right now. I’ve never lost two in a row in the UFC. It’s never happened and I think it’s because of this mindset I’m in right now. I am out of f**ks to give. I just want to go fight and have fun.
“When my back’s against the wall, is when I’m most dangerous. When I fail, I always bounce back stronger. Every time. I don’t expect this to be any different. I’m going to go in there and whatever happens, happens. I’m fairly unconcerned with the result. I’m focused on what happens between the bells. I don’t really care what happens after the last bell.”
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