Because of the surprise booking of the Glover Teixeira-Jamahal Hill title fight for UFC 283, former title contender Anthony Smith is suddenly left without an opponent. “Lionheart” was originally booked to face Hill at the main event of the UFC’s London event in March.
Smith was visibly at a loss for words when he found out about it in real-time during the UFC 282 post-event broadcast on Saturday. But after getting to digest the situation, he offered a lengthier and more thought-out response during his recent appearance on The MMA Hour.
“[ESPN producer] Jake [Lebowitz] came in my ear, I’m not even exaggerating, maybe three seconds before it came out of [ESPN broadcaster Ashley Brewer’s] mouth.
“Credit to Jake for trying to do his best to give me the best heads up he could, but it was as fast as they could get it to me. Jake popped in and said, ‘Hey, heads up, they’re going to announce Jamahal Hill vs. Glover for the title,’ and then she said it, and I was like, ‘God damn it.’ It sucks.”
“It’s not directed at any individual person, and that’s the worst part. I’m just angry. Some of it’s at life, some of it’s at circumstance, some of it’s at myself, but I’m not mad at Jamahal, I’m not mad at the UFC. It just sucks.”
Smith went through a rough time over the last few months, as he dealt with injuries, surgeries, and the loss of his mother. Despite the anger he felt, he sees the logic behind the match-up.
“It seems like they’re trying to close an open circle. With Jiri kind of relinquishing the title and them like, ‘Oh, this works out perfect. We have this fix, where we have two top-level light heavyweights, one’s already held the title before and one’s right in title contention, let’s make that fight.’
“So that’s supposed to close the loop, and when that doesn’t happen, I honestly think that Brazil is a fantastic market for the UFC. I think there’s some intrigue there, and they’re trying to add to that card, and I think that they owe Glover, so I think that’s some of it. ‘Alright, this is an opportunity to get Glover back, add some pop to that card.’
“It makes sense, because what do you do if it’s not those two guys? I think you can make that fight right now, because there is no champion, and let’s get this moving, but if you start putting time, it gives a lot of people opportunities to start inserting themselves and start making arguments.
“It’s easier just to make it right then and there, and I get that. The wheels of business have to keep turning.”
Smith’s next fight has yet to be finalized. As for UFC 283, it takes place on January 21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Co-headlining the event is the fourth title fight between flyweight champion Deivson Figueiredo and interim titleholder Brandon Moreno.