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Anthony Smith helped Jamahal Hill win UFC title, but knows fight is ‘going to happen at some point’

When Jamahal Hill got the call to face Glover Teixeira in a UFC light heavyweight title fight, it came at Anthony Smith’s expense.

Smith was slated to face Hill in a March matchup that could’ve put him in title contention. Instead, the one-time title challenger ended up as odd man out.

Not long after that Hill vs. Teixeira was announced, Smith received a call from Hill, asking if he’d be willing to help Hill get ready for Teixeira. Smith previously battled Texiera, so he had a lot of insight on the matchup. Rather than sulk or complain about losing out on an opportunity, he gladly offered his help to Hill, who ultimately went onto claim the title in a lopsided decision win over the Brazilian.

Five months later, Smith is now preparing for his own fight against Johnny Walker at UFC Charlotte, but he knows there’s a good chance he’ll eventually get an offer to face Hill again.

“I love that guy, but no matter what, it’s going to have to happen at some point,” Smith said on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “We both know it. It’s going to happen at some point.”

Smith said he’s always maintained a friendly relationship with Hill, even before they got matched up together and became training partners.

“It’s been nothing but love when we run into each other, he’s been super respectful of not just me, but my journey, the things that I’ve gone through to get to where I am,” Smith explained. “He’s got a whole s*** ton of kids, too, so we connect on that front, as far as being younger fathers ... S***, we’ve got 10 kids between the two of us.”

Hill’s offer to fight for the UFC light heavyweight title meant his matchup with Smith was cancelled, but the 34-year-old vet didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation to train.

“I’ve always had a lot of respect for that guy,” Smith said. “He asked. He wanted some help, and if you’ve got the balls and are humble enough to say, ‘I’d really like to have your help,’ I can check my own ego enough to go down there and give it to him.”

Smith certainly isn’t taking credit for Hill’s win over Teixeira, but there’s no doubt he added a lot to the training camp ahead of that fight at UFC 283. He didn’t hold any of his knowledge back, which actually made him feel slightly guilty because he has a ton of respect and admiration for Texeira.

“This wasn’t one of those situations where I half-assed it, gave him a couple of pointers and dipped out,” Smith said. “I gave him a lot of intimate details. I gave him a lot of little things that he wouldn’t have been able to get that stuff anywhere else, except from me. Those are things that I carry with me only. He used those things in the fight. I was willing to essentially open my heart up and give him pieces of me that I guess I earned when I was in there with Glover, and I gave those to Jamahal.

“Part of me feels a little bit bad for Glover, because I pulled the curtain back. I took the surprise factor away and gave Jamahal an advantage that otherwise no one else has had.”

Smith said Hill showed a lot of appreciation for the help he provided, which meant a lot to him and built upon the friendship that started during that training camp. That only further cemented his opinion of Hill.

“He went in there and fought his ass off – that’s 100 percent him,” Smith said. “But he was appreciative of me taking time out of my own day to go help him. It’s one thing to help someone, but to get absolute appreciation and for him to mean it, means another thing.”

Spending that much time together undoubtedly gave both athletes knowledge about each other, but Smith doesn’t expect that to play a factor in the outcome of an eventual fight between them. There will be no bad blood or animosity between them, but heknows from experience that he and Hill will put on a hell of a fight.

“Jamahal and I know each other,” Smith said. “We’re familiar enough with each other when we touch gloves and we start moving around, that will be a familiar thing to see. He’ll be familiar with my movement, and not necessarily that he was trying to get something out of me when we were training to use it later. But it’s just, ‘Oh, I’ve seen that before, I’ve seen that type of movement before.’

“Jamahal and I are very familiar with each other, so there’s not that weird awkward feeling-out stage, and we’ll just get right at it.”

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