Following a second straight loss in the UFC, Anthony Smith is reassessing his future.
The one-time light heavyweight title contender suffered a lopsided defeat at the hands of Aleksandar Rakic in the UFC Vegas 8 main event, which came three months after he was finished by fifth-round TKO in a showdown against Glover Teixeira.
A series of brutal leg kicks from Rakic set the pace early and the Austrian prospect also dominated the fight on the floor whenever Smith engaged him in a grappling battle. When it was all said and done, Smith gave Rakic credit for the victory while noting that he ultimately felt outpowered and undersized for the majority of the fight.
“I stayed in kicking range at the beginning, which was obviously stupid now,” Smith said during the UFC post-fight show. “He just beat up my lead leg and then we got in our clinch and grappling exchanges, which I felt okay in. He was so strong, so big. So I just ended up in some bad spots and it wasn’t really bad spots, he was just so tight on top, I couldn’t make any space. I guess just my biggest takeaway is that he was so big and so strong.
“I did everything I wanted to do in those positions but I just wasn’t able to finish some of them. I got to the clinch against the cage, I was able to get to his legs, it was just when I tried to return him to the mat, he was just so strong. I couldn’t get him bent over at the waist to get his weight on his hands. That’s what I keep going back to. I just felt like we were in two different weight classes.”
Smith admitted the size difference was just too much to overcome, which now puts him in a precarious position going forward.
While he’s still going to be a top-10 ranked fighter, Smith will undoubtedly run into similar problems in the future as long as he’s competing at 205 pounds where many of his opponents will still be much bigger than him.
Despite spending most of his career competing at middleweight, Smith knows the cut back down to 185 pounds would also be incredibly difficult at this point.
“I’ve never been one of the guys that is out here pining and calling for more weight classes but my last couple fights, it’s kind of where my brain goes,” Smith said. “I’m just too big for 185 and you start getting to these bigger, stronger, taller, longer guys, they’re just so strong. He wasn’t passing my guard. He wasn’t putting me in danger on the ground. I just couldn’t get up.
“I couldn’t get his hands apart. I couldn’t get his head off my chest to make any space to do anything. He wasn’t overly offensive. I even was releasing posture on his head to hope that he would posture up to punch so I could at least make some space to get up. Listen, he fought a great game plan. He did everything he had to do to win.”
Smith had never previously tasted defeat in two consecutive fights in the UFC and this latest setback puts him even further away from another shot at 205-pound gold.
Then again, the 32-year-old Nebraska native understands that even attempting a move back down to middleweight would require a lot of time and effort before he could even contemplate booking a fight at 185 pounds.
“I think I’ve got some big decisions to make in my career and figure out where we go from here,” Smith said. “It’s super frustrating to lose to a guy that you feel that you can beat.
“I don’t know. 185’s still really tough. It’s a total lifestyle change and it’s year round. It’s not 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.”