Anthony Smith would definitely consider himself one of the most respectful fighters on the UFC roster, but some comments from Ryan Spann led to a pos-fight confrontation after his win at UFC Vegas 37.
As soon as Smith released his rear-naked choke that finished the fight, he stood over top of Spann and shouted down at the former Contender Series veteran. Once Spann got back to his feet, a fleet of security officers flooded into the cage to stay between the fighters to ensure the main event didn’t get restarted.
Eventually, cooler heads prevailed with Smith embracing Spann and sharing a few words with him. He explained at the post-fight press conference what led to his emotional outburst in the cage.
“Maybe this is going to sound arrogant or pretentious but I have earned the respect from my peers,” Smith said. “I put a lot of work into this game. I’ve sacrificed my entire adult live to be here. To be in the position I’m sitting in right now. That’s time with my kids. That’s friendships. That’s life opportunities. I could have been a godd*mn surgeon by now. I’ve put a lifetime of work into this, and most of my peers respect me. That’s all I ask.
“You don’t have to like me. We don’t have to get along. We don’t have to be friends. You can think you’re going to kick my ass and sometimes you might, but I think just respecting my journey is the only thing I ever expect from anybody. And he didn’t. Saying he doesn’t care what I’ve done, he doesn’t care about the main events, he doesn’t care who I’ve beaten. He doesn’t care about the bonuses. I bet he cares now.”
Smith was happy to prove the naysayers wrong with his past three wins in a row capped off by the dominant showing against Spann on Saturday night.
That said, Smith admits he’s done trying to live up to anybody’s expectations, much less attempting to impress critics who were quick to throw dirt on his grave long before he was dead and buried.
“Who do I gotta beat? What do I gotta do? That’s an honest question,” Smith said. “Who do I gotta beat? I beat the old guys, and people said they’re too old. Now I’m beating the young guys, and they’re not ranked high enough. What the f*ck do you want me to do? At this point, I don’t give a f*ck anymore. I’m doing what I can do. I’m fighting the guys in front of me. I’m f*cking over it. I’m done worrying about it.
“I care because I want people to recognize my sacrifice, or I did. Now I don’t give a sh*t. I don’t care. I’m going to do my own thing and f*cking like it or not, I’m here.”
While the altercation with Spann was heated for a moment, Smith has no regrets that it happened. But he’s also happy they were able to put the incident behind them before leaving the cage.
“Let’s not pretend like Ryan Spann wasn’t going to rub that sh*t in my face if he beat me,” Smith said. “I wasn’t even trying to rub it in his face. That was just my first initial reaction. The second he tapped and the ref was pulling me off, my initial reaction was where was that ass whooping that you were bringing for me? That was my thought. That’s what’s been running through my head since he said it.
“Maybe I’m on some Michael Jordan sh*t where I’m making sh*t up in my head and I’m making a mountain out of a molehill just cause that’s what I need to do. I don’t know. The fact is it genuinely bothered me so that was emotional reaction immediately but I’m glad we got it over with. He said it, he’s trying to feed his family, I’m trying to feed mine. We both really, really wanted this. It’s just part of the game.”
After talking so much about respect, Smith promises he wasn’t trying to humiliate Spann after he just suffered a submission loss in his first UFC main event but words can lead to actions and actions can lead to consequences.
That’s what Smith wanted to get across.
“I’m not trying to ruffle any feathers,” Smith said. “I’m not trying to piss anybody off. I’m just trying to get what I’ve earned and that’s all I want. At this point, I don’t even care. I don’t care. But when I have a microphone in my face and I’m feeling a certain way, I’m just going to say it.”