It was the rematch nobody really needed, at least no one other than Anthony Smith. Nonetheless, it appears the UFC had intended to go forward with Smith’s hoped for second bout against Aleksandar Rakic; a chance at revenge after being thoroughly out-classed by the Austrian back in August of last year. Smith called Rakic out after defeating Ryan Spann in September, and Rakic appeared to accept.
Unfortunately, if Smith had hoped to even the score sometime before 2022, it seems that plan is no longer in the works. That news comes after a recent appearance from ‘Lionheart’ on the MMA Hour, where he revealed that a case of staph infection, contracted after undergoing recent knee surgery has scuppered any immediate fight arrangements.
“So, I knew that there was something going on with my knee, but I didn’t know how bad it was,” Smith revealed when asked about the cancellation of the Rakic rematch. “I’ve been kinda dealing with it for a little while, anyway—I dunno, probably the last five fights. Like, I haven’t been able to run in training camp at all. We’ve had to work my strength and conditioning around my knee. So, I kinda tweaked in the fight, when I was taking Ryan Spann’s back, but I didn’t want to take the hook out and lose position, so I just left it in there. I kinda heel hooked myself, essentially, and tore my LCL. It wasn’t a complete tear; we did stem cells, we did the PRP injections. Thought I was gonna be down for eight weeks, not a big deal. But, because I already had other knee problems, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to go in, clean out a lot of the cobwebs and cartilage and scar tissue—just a lot of problems I’ve been having with it. It wasn’t gonna extend my time off anymore, because that’s about a month in itself, and it was early enough that it wouldn’t extend it anymore.
So, long story short, I end up having a whole lot more problems after the scope, and got staph infection in the joint. Now I’m on IV antibiotics for another month. They had to go back in, they had to wash it out, trim tissue, scrape the back of my kneecap, it was a disaster. So a routine, regular - two or three days out and I’m back on my feet. That was two-and-a-half to three weeks ago that I had the original scope - I think it was three weeks ago - and I just now got off the crutches, three days ago.”
Smith went on to explain that he’s not sure exactly at what point he contracted staph, considering that he had to have his knee drained several times after the tear and that he then received several injections at the site for the stem cell and prp therapy—as well as the eventual surgery. Even after the initial surgery, he was draining fluid from his knee every two days, to keep swelling down and get fluid off the joint. “There was just a lot of shit going in and out of my knee,” he admitted.
“I’m not 100% sure,” Smith said when asked when he’ll be able to return to action. “I went from the original injury, to the injections, and then the scope, and now the washout. Now I start rehab tomorrow, because there’s a lot of atrophy. My left leg is significantly larger than my right leg. So I’m gonna kinda have to battle back from that a little bit. I would guess February, March—April maybe?”
And while Smith confirmed that the Rakic fight is definitely off the table, when one door closes, often another opens.
“It sounds like we’ve got somebody else, though,” Smith revealed, saying the UFC offered him a fight with Jan Blachowicz shortly after his loss to Teixeira in the UFC 267 main event.
“They brought it to me, that night,” Smith explained. “He’s ready to fight. He wants to fight again, he wants to fight soon... as long as we can get the infection cleared up, I don’t think February is out of the question,” he added when asked if he’d even be able to fight soon.
Whether or not that bout can actually come together, given Smith’s need to still recover and complete rehab, remains to be seen. But if everything does go as well as possible, it sounds like Smith may have found himself with an even more interesting fight on his hands, all due to an unfortunate concatenation of circumstances.