It was another rough night at the office for Anthony Smith inside Spectrum Center in North Carolina, living up to his “Lionheart” nickname yet again by surviving a 15-minute assault from Johnny Walker at UFC Charlotte.
The fight was Smith’s first since a second round technical knockout loss to Magomed Ankalaev in July 2022. That time his body couldn’t keep up with his mental determination: he tried to fight through a broken ankle suffered in the first round, but Ankalaev came in for the kill and snapped Smith’s three-fight win streak.
Against Walker, it looked like “Lionheart” was struggling with his mental game. At one point, he seemed to be trying to psych himself up with some interesting accusations directed toward his opponent.
Smith: you were attacking my family— ᴛʜᴇᴀʀᴛᴏꜰᴡᴀʀ (@TheArtOfWar6) May 13, 2023
“Now you attack my family,” he said to Walker in the second round. “You’re attacking my family1”
“What? What?!” a confused Walker replied.
Walker refused to be goaded into a brawl.
Instead, the hulking 205-pound Brazilian punished Smith mercilessly with leg kicks en route to a 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 decision victory. Even before Bruce Buffer revealed the winner, “Lionheart” had taken off his gloves and it looked like he might announce his retirement. But, with time being tight on the ABC broadcast, we never got to hear what Smith had to say about the defeat.
His retirement was left an open question, one addressed by UFC President, Dana White, at the post-fight press conference.
“Anthony, I thought he was going to retire, too,” White said. “I think after the fight he said to some people in the back he wants to think about it, but I don’t know. He always comes to fight. He got busted up, he got hurt, and he did what he does: he toughs it out. It looked like that fight was a couple of leg kicks away from being over.”
In a post to Instagram, Smith addressed the defeat.
“Congrats Johnny Walker and team,” he wrote. “I have a lot of reflecting and thinking to do. Thanks to everyone who is and still are sticking by me.”
The 34-year-old has a lot of miles on his body. He’s had 54 professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fights, earning himself a 36-18 record (11-8 UFC). Even in his wins he often takes a lot of damage, and it’s unclear whether he’s still got the juice left for another run at the light heavyweight title. Considering he’s managed to partially transition into a successful UFC desk analyst, is it worth it for him to keep fighting?
We’d argue he’s already shed more than enough blood for our entertainment.
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