Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith has some career decisions to make. The Nebraska native is now 1-3 in his last four Octagon outings, following his one-sided unanimous judging loss to Aleksandar Rakić in our UFC Fight Night Vegas 8 main event on Saturday night.
Finding himself on the wrong side of a series of crippling calf kicks, and to many’s surprise, the grappling exchanges, Smith failed to really ever get started over three-rounds opposite the Vienna born striker – dropping his second consecutive blemish.
The weekend loss follows another rather one-sided defeat back in May at UFC Fight Night Jacksonville, where Smith fatigued after a good opening round, to drop a fifth-round battering at the hands of Glover Teixeira. The 32-year-old required transportation to a medical facility after that headliner, after suffering a broken nose and orbital, as well as a dislodged tooth.
Speaking at Saturday night’s post-fight show on ESPN, a dejected Smith weighed up his options going forward, which included a move back to 185-pounds, and a period away from the Octagon which would give him time to become bigger for the opposition he’d face at light heavyweight.
“I don’t know. (Middleweight cut) is still really tough,” Smith explained. “It’s a total lifestyle change, and that’s year-round. It’s not like one of those things where I can get into camp and change my diet and cut down. It’s a complete lifestyle change. I guess that’s one of the options. I guess the other option is to take some time off and get bigger. I don’t know. I’ve got some things to decide on.”
Smith would explain how he felt he could beat Rakić, but put emphasis on the fact that he’s come up against contenders at light heavyweight that appear stature-wise, to be just too strong for him.
“I’ve never been one of the guys that’s out here pining and calling for more weight classes, but in these last couple of fights, that’s kind of where my brain goes,” Smith said. “I’m just too big for 185(-pounds) – and you start getting into these bigger, stronger, taller, longer guys. They’re just so strong – I think I got some big decisions to make in my career and figure out where we go from here. It’s super frustrating to lose to a guy you feel you can beat.” (H/T MMA Junkie)
Prior to his defeats to the above mentioned, Rakić and Teixeira – the Factory X trainee had returned to winning ways after his 205-pound title challenge loss to Jon Jones, with a penultimate round rear-naked choke win over multiple-time title challenger, Alexander Gustafsson.
In other light heavyweight wins, Smith rose to the number-one contender rank with eye-catching finishes of former division titleholders, Rashad Evans, and ‘Shogun’ Rua, before a submission win over one-time title hopeful, Volkan Oezdemir.
With mixed success at middleweight in his Octagon stint, the striking and grappling threat picked up wins over Héctor Lombard, Andrew Sanchez, Elvis Mutapcic, and Leonardo Augusto Guimarães in between losses to Brazilian pair, Cezar Mutante, and recent light heavyweight title challenger, Thiago ‘Marreta’ Santos.