Streaking UFC light heavyweight contender Magomed Ankalaev captured his eighth straight victory by turning away longtime veteran Thiago Santos in the UFC Vegas 50 main event last weekend in Las Vegas, improving his record to 16-1 in the process.
The result should be enough to catapult Ankalaev into the division Top 5.
“In my opinion, I deserve the title shot next,” Ankalaev said after the fight. “Because I am on an eight-fight winning streak and some of the fights I finished the guys, and I feel I’m ready. As you know, Anthony Smith was offered to fight me before and he wasn’t interested, as I have said. Now I’m looking forward to get the title shot next. I believe I deserve it.”
Working against Ankalaev is the fact that his Santos victory was one of the most boring bouts of 2022 and probably not enough to secure a fight against the winner of Glover Teixeira versus Jiri Prochazka, who collide for the Brazilian’s belt at UFC 275 in June.
“He was offered the fight,” Smith countered. “I was fresh out of knee surgery and staph infection, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to take it then. I’m healthy now. I’ve been begging for a fight. I think me and the UFC have been waiting for this matchup to happen to see how it unfolds. May or June, I’m ready. I’m begging for a fight. I’ve just been waiting to see what happens here.”
The 33 year-old Smith (36-16), currently ranked No. 4 at 205 pounds, is coming off three straight victories — all by way of knockout or submission — including last September’s finish over the rough-and-tumble Ryan Spann in the UFC Vegas 37 main event.
The promotion has yet to comment on the future of either Ankalaev or Smith.