A change in opponent has given rising light heavyweight star Devin Clark a grand opportunity at UFC on ESPN+ 43 in November. Clark was supposed to fight Shamil Gamzatov, but reported visa issues for the Dagestani forced him from the card entirely.
Instead, Clark is getting a new opponent—none other than former title challenger, Anthony “Lionheart” Smith. The news was first reported by MMA Junkie, but has not been confirmed by UFC officials at the time of this writing.
Clark has had a great year thus far, defeating both Dequan Townsend and Alonzo Menifield by unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Anderson vs. Blachowicz 2 and UFC 250 respectively. Prior to those fights, Clark has alternated between wins and losses since joining the promotion in 2016. He looks to extend his recent win streak to three with a win over Smith.
Smith has not found the same success in 2020 that his upcoming opponent has, losing back-to-back fights against Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic at UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Teixeira and UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakic. That recent run marks the first time Smith has lost consecutive fights in the UFC.
After the Rakic fight, Smith was very open about the options he had regarding the future of his fighting career—including a potential drop back down to middleweight. But, in light of this announcement, it seems as if the Factory X talent has decided against that move. A career middleweight before entering the UFC, Smith competed at 185 lbs for about two years inside the Octagon before moving up to the light heavyweight division in 2018.
Clark has actually called for a fight with Smith before, which was met with an immediate acceptance from Smith on social media. Despite both men seemingly on board, however, the bout failed to come together—with Smith instead going on to face Shogun Rua and Volkan Oezdemir in 2018, on his way to a title shot against Jon Jones.
UFC on ESPN+ 43, aka: UFC VEGAS 15, is set for Nov. 28 and is expected to be headlined by a heavyweight showdown between Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis.