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Morning Report: Anthony Smith comments on Luke Rockhold’s KO loss: ‘I think he absolutely deserves it’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Over the past year, Anthony Smith and Luke Rockhold have been engaging in a war or words. It started when Rockhold made clear his intentions to move up to 205 pounds, and in so doing dismissed the achievements of other middleweights who had made the leap, namely Smith. Smith took umbrage at that and a public battle ensue that got progressively more heated, with Smith declaring he would “drill a hole through Luke Rockhold’s f*cking face.” Rockhold was dismissive of the comment, saying Smith wasn’t “a credible character” at 205 pounds and then proclaimed his intention to defeat Jan Blachowicz and then challenge Jon Jones.

Yeah, about that...

On Saturday night at UFC 239, Rockhold didn’t quite deliver on his promises. Instead, the former UFC middleweight champion was knocked out by Blachowicz in the second round. To add injury to insult, Rockhold also suffered a broken jaw in the loss. All in all, it was a bad weekend for Rockhold and Smith can’t think of someone who deserves it more, even if it didn’t get to be him that wired Rockhold’s mouth shut.

“I would have loved to have been the guy that put Rockhold out like that, but I think it serves him right,” Smith told SiriusXM Fight Nation. “All the trash talk, all the ‘Anthony Smith is a bum, Gustafsson’s gonna roll over him and I’m gonna starch Jan,’ and just the disrespect and just looking right over Jan. I’ve been telling everybody that asks, Jan Blachowicz is the dark horse in the division. He’s one of the most dangerous dudes and part of it is because he’s so quiet. He keeps his mouth shut and he does his thing and he keeps on just walking through people. He does have the loss to Thiago but I think it’s safe to say that there’s nothing to blink your eyes at there.

“So it’s unfortunate that his jaw is broken. I don’t want anybody to get hurt but it is nice to, again, see Rockhold get it shoved right in his face. Every single time he’s trashed talked somebody and been too cocky and thought he was too good for everybody and that his sh*t doesn’t stink, he ends up being the one that looks stupid. So I’m glad that the MMA gods made sure that that kept happening.”

The MMA gods certainly do seem to have it out for Rockhold lately. Since winning the UFC middleweight title in 2015, Rockhold has gone 1-3 with all three losses coming by way of left-hook knockout. Even in his lone win in that time, Rockhold was dropped by David Branch before coming back to win. The bad run for Rockhold even had UFC President Dana White suggesting it may be time for the Ralph Lauren model to retire from fighting. And all of this is made worse by the fact that Rockhold just keeps on resolutely talking trash, which is why Smith thinks Rockhold deserves every bit of ridicule coming his way.

“Again, it’s unfortunate.” Smith said. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt but I think that all the embarrassment and the finger-pointing and the laughing that’s happening to him right now, I think he absolutely deserves it.”

UFC 239 also featured another light heavyweight Smith is interested in fighting, champion Jon Jones. Jones put on one of the worst performances of his career on Saturday, barely edging out a split decision over a one-legged Thiago Santos. It was such a bad showing that fans were left scratching their heads about what happened, especially since Jones seemed completely content with his performance. But Smith thinks he may have an answer.

“I’m not sure what’s happening,” Smith said. “I’m not sure if Jon was so ahead of the game early on in his career and he was kind of like a unicorn, he was just so much different, and as the game evolves, I don’t want to say everybody’s catching up but everybody’s catching up.

“I think that there’s enough tape out there on Jon that he’s running out of new things that people haven’t seen. . . I think that he leveled up the game as far as his ability to think on the fly and I think it opened up everyone’s eyes and everyone’s minds to new stuff, but eventually you’re gonna run out of stuff. He’ll always change stuff a little bit, he’ll always tweak it a little bit but I think that we’ve gotten to who Jon Jones is and I think we’ve seen him run his course of what he’s doing. And I’m not saying he’s not gonna get better or be more dangerous. I think he can add more wrinkles. I just think he’s not evolving as fast as the game is anymore, and I think before, he was moving faster than the rest of the game. I don’t think that is the case anymore.”

If so, that’s good news for the rest of the light heavyweight division as Jones has had a stranglehold over it since 2011, not counting the three year stretch where Jones was absent the title due to repeatedly shooting himself in the foot. It’s also good news for Smith who has to be considered on the short list for a title shot. Despite having lost to Jones just a few months back, Smith rebounded with the biggest win of his career, a submission victory over Alexander Gustafsson (against Rockhold’s prediction - another tough L for Rockhold) and now is calling for a second title opportunity given the barren landscape at 205 right now.

Jones is looking to return to the cage in December.


Big night. Contender’s Series results: All five winners earn UFC contracts.

Farewell. Chad Mendes announces his retirement from MMA.

Coach. Duke Roufus expects loss to make Ben Askren better, possible return by end of year.

Class. Colby Covington: ‘Overrated’ Ben Askren ‘finally got exposed.’

Seriously? Tito Ortiz vs. Alberto Del Rio in the works for upcoming Combate Americas event.

USADA. Former UFC fighter Ivan Shtyrkov suspended two years by USADA following failed drug test.


UFC 239 Rewind.

The fastest KO in UFC history.

Cejudo calling out Amanda Nunes.

Urijah’s best UFC fights.


Eurobash. Interviews with Gunnar Nelson, Arnold Allen, and Will Fleury.

Our Man in Stockholm. Listen to the best journalist in MMA talk about the dangers of being just that.




Damn. That’s wild.


Words of warning.

Corey Anderson.

Huge fan of the friendship between these three.

Boss Logic coming back to his roots.


Tito Ortiz (20-12-1) vs. Alberto Del Rio (9-5); Combate Americas.

Mickey Gall (5-2) vs. Salim Touahri (10-3); UFC Newark, Aug. 3.

Paul Redmond (15-7) vs. Brandon Girtz (16-8); Bellator Dublin, Sept. 27.

Brian Moore (12-7) vs. Toby Misech (11-7); Bellator Dublin, Sept. 27.


Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.



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