Anthony Smith cut 22 pounds in two days after flying over 5,000 miles to serve as the backup for the UFC 283 title fight between Jamahal Hill and Glover Teixeira. But a sinus infection and bout with the flu left him one pound shy of his required weight.
”I was really sick,” Smith, who on May 13 takes on Johnny Walker, said Monday on The MMA Hour. “Really, really, really.”
Smith, 34, didn’t initially reveal the circumstances surrounding his weight miss, which turned out to be a wash for the UFC when Hill and Teixeira made weight without incident for the Jan. title fight.
“It’s a fairly simple story, but the problem is, every time – everyone always gets mad when you don’t give a reason for what you did, or something that happened,” Smith said. “They’re like, ‘Well, you won’t even give us a reason. We don’t even deserve a reason.’ And they get all upset because you won’t say anything.
“The second you give the reason, it immediately becomes you’re an excuse-maker. So you can’t win. So I’d love to tell you. And it would make a lot of sense, like, ‘Oh, OK. Holy s***, that makes a lot of sense.’”
The week prior to the event, Smith said he weighed around 221 pounds, lower than his typical mark before a fight. But five days from his flight, he became ill and went to see a doctor, whom he said treated him with antibiotics.
“So they gave me all the meds, I get the steroid pack, the antibiotics for the sinus infection,” he said. “I’m supposed to leave Wednesday. Tuesday, because of the meds and just being sick, I ballooned to like 235, 234 [pounds].
“We did all we could to get the weight off. I landed in Brazil at like 228. So from Wednesday to Friday morning I cut from 228 to 206.”
Smith showed up at the UFC 283 weigh-ins looking positively miserable, which is how he described the process of trying to lose weight while ill. Despite receiving compensation for his efforts, he said he was “crushed” by his miss; he had taken the backup role in hopes of sliding into a title fight after losing Hill as an opponent for a UFC Vegas headliner.
“Sometimes that s*** happens, and I’m really critical people that miss weight – that’s your job, you gotta make weight,” he said. “If I ... mentally didn’t have such an ego, I probably would have called and just said, ‘Hey, I’m really sick. I can’t make it. We’re gonna have to go without a backup. But ... I would have to say I couldn’t do it, and I just can’t say that.”
Hill is now the UFC light heavyweight champion after outpointing Teixeira in Brazil, while Smith has been booked against Walker, who’s returned to form with back-to-back finishes in his previous two fights.
“I think he’s learning some new skills and I think that it’s helping him a little bit,” Smith said. “I think sometimes it hurts him. But overall, he’s kind of the same guy has been for a while. ... He’s figured out how to stick to a game plan, for sure.”
Smith is hopeful he’ll get the next title shot if sidelined ex-champ Jiri Prochazka isn’t able to face Hill this summer. But he’s trying not to get ahead of himself. There are plenty of unexpected twists that could affect his ability to fight, as he rediscovered in Brazil.