Anthony Smith is determined to get a rematch with Aleksandar Rakic and he used his main event at UFC Vegas 37 to send that message.
The former light heavyweight title contender looked better than ever as he picked apart Ryan Spann on the feet and then finished the fight with a rear-naked choke submission with the end coming at just 3:47 in the opening round.
The submission was Smith’s third win in a row overall, which led to his call out as he looks to avenge the last loss on his record after falling to Rakic back in August 2020.
“I want Aleksander Rakic,” Smith shouted following his latest win. “He’s just sitting around. He’s not next for the title. Either I get that fight or I’m going to skip it. That’s what I want. I want someone ahead of me and I earned that.”
It didn’t take long for Rakic to answer the challenge after he tweeted “I’m free in December,” which Smith answered by saying “Merry Christmas to me.”
Before he can get to the Rakic rematch, Smith first had to dispatch Spann and he did so with a one-sided performance that saw the 52-fight veteran use his experience to his advantage on the feet and on the ground for as long as the fight lasted.
Showing no fear exchanging strikes with a massive light heavyweight like Spann, Smith was putting together some truly nasty combinations with his hands as soon as the fight started. With Spann looking to land a single huge shot for the knockout, Smith was quick to counter with his long range and deadly accuracy.
It only took a couple of punches landing to put Spann in trouble as he was already on wobbly legs, trying to stave off Smith’s attacks. Once Smith smelled blood in the water, he was looking for the punch that would end the fight and he nearly put Spann away with a blistering right hand that put his opponent on the canvas.
While Spann was able to survive momentarily, it was short-lived success as Smith wasted no time taking the back and locking up the rear-naked choke. A second later, Spann was tapping out to call an end to the contest.
“I just tried to check my distance,” Smith explained about the finish. “I was able to eventually put him down and get the finish. He was making the right decisions, I was just a step ahead. He’s got the skills. I just think I’m better.”
Tensions were high initially, but @lionheartasmith and @Superman_Spann shook hands after their #UFCVegas37 fight pic.twitter.com/4xEw8Qc1qF— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 19, 2021
The fighters got heated afterwards as Smith erupted for some pre-fight trash talk he heard from Spann but cooler heads eventually prevailed as the light heavyweights hugged it out in the cage.
Obviously nothing has been determined just yet but Smith’s three-fight win streak might just earn him that second shot at Rakic as he seeks to get back that loss from their last encounter. Rakic has won his last two fights in a row including the unanimous decision against Smith and a rematch could potentially put the winner into title contention in 2022.