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UFC contender Anthony Smith sidelined for rest of 2019 following another surgery

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It’ll be awhile before we see “Lionheart” compete again.

UFC Fan Experience Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Anthony Smith notched arguably the best win of his career just two months ago, but the UFC light heavyweight contender will have to wait for a lengthy period of time before he can return to competition.

“Lionheart” told MMA Fighting that he recently underwent another surgery on the broken hand he suffered in his submission victory over Alexander Gustafsson in June.

“[The first surgery] went well initially but a week and a half ago I had another [surgery]. The first one wasn’t successful so we had to do another one about 10 days ago. I’m back on the horse starting over again and trying to stay positive,” Smith said.

“The bone, the first metacarpal was completely snapped and displaced. Part of the bone had started peeling back because I kept throwing it during the fight. So they went in and put a plate on it, fixed a lot of the scar tissue and stuff like that. They fixed all that. I don’t know exactly what happened but the bone displaced again and that broke the plate so they had to go in and replace the plate, put in a new one. Take bone graft from my leg so I got two holes drilled in my leg. So it’s been a mess. I was out about four months from the beginning so we kind of restarted that four months a week and a half ago.”

Smith was scheduled to compete in this Friday’s inaugural Kinektic Grappling event, but this setback means he’ll be reduced to just being the team captain.

The recovery time following this surgery will render Smith unable to fight again until 2020.

“Four months until I can punch again,” Smith said. “We’re looking at January, February, we’ll get the machine fired back up again.”

It’s been an incredible run for Smith up the light heavyweight ranks. The veteran middleweight made the move to 205 lbs last year, scoring KOs over Rashad Evans and Mauricio Rua. A submission victory over Volkan Oezdemir earned him a title shot against Jon Jones, a fight he lost by decision earlier this March. He bounced back in impressive fashion by going to Sweden and choking out Gustafsson in the fourth round, leaving the crowd in stunned silence.

The UFC’s light heavyweight division now has two of its top contenders and most recent title challengers on the shelf for the remainder of the year, as Thiago Santos’ recovery time from his knee surgeries is expected to last into spring 2020.