Anthony Smith has officially created a conversation. On the one side stands him, and other fighters who feel similarly about wanting their bouts to continue no matter the cost—but may not be willing to address those ideas so publicly. On the other side seems to be everybody else.
Smith took a complete and utter thrashing at the hands of Glover Teixeira on Wednesday, May 13th in Jacksonville, FL. It was a beating bad enough that even the referee felt the need to address fans afterward and suggest he’d be changing his approach for future fights. Smith, however, has been defiant in the face of any narrative that would suggest that he took even an ounce more punishment than was strictly necessary.
In a recent interview with MMA Fighting he further clarified his stance. Most interestingly, noting that he’s not actually against corners stopping fights, or referees being cautious. Just, not while he’s in the cage. Safety can be for other fighters.
“Put that on me,” Smith said of criticisms toward his corner or the referee. “Listen, I understand the fans’ side. I get it. It makes me look crazy. I’m not anti-stopping fights. I’m not against throwing in the towel. I’m not against cornermen stepping in and saying ‘that’s enough.’ I’m just against it for me. I personally would stop fights for people that I care about that I’m coaching. I would do that. I have no problem stepping in and stopping a fight and I think that it needs to happen more. Just not with me. I know that sounds nuts.”
Adding to that, Smith says that he’s also specifically spoken to referees before his fights, making sure that he knows exactly what commands they’ll be using and what they’ll be looking for when it comes to stepping in and calling a fight off. That way, he feels he can hold them to their word, and react appropriately to their instruction to ensure he’s never going to get a bout waved off early. Beyond those revelations, however, ‘Lionheart’ also made stated that he wants fans to know that he appreciates all their concern. He just doesn’t want to be seen as a victim.
“All of me appreciates it,” Smith said of the fan reaction to his loss. “I think that’s getting missed. People are missing that part of it. I’m not unappreciative of you caring.
“I’m just trying to explain to people, it’s not that I don’t care. It’s not even that I don’t expect people to feel the way that they feel. I’m not trashing you for feeling that way. I’m just explaining to you that it’s this way on purpose. That I’m not a victim.”