The UFC is returning to New York’s Madison Square Garden for the first time since last November with UFC 277. And according to MMA Fighting the card will boast a battle of light heavyweights who are itching to get into title contention.
That outlet has confirmed that both Magomed Ankalaev and Anthony Smith have agreed to face each other at UFC 277. The fight joins Derrick Lewis and Sergei Pavlovich as the only fights revealed thus far for what will likely be a marque event for the promotion.
Ankalaev recently climbed to 4th in the UFC’s 205 lb rankings. He achieved that thanks to a unanimous decision win over former title challenger Thiago Santos in the main event of UFC Vegas 50 in March.
The win pushed Ankalaev’s winning streak to eight fights. That run includes wins over Nikita Krylov, Ion Cutelaba and Volkan Oezdemir. The only blemish on Ankalaev’s 18 fight career was a stunning last second submission loss to Paul Craig in 2018.
Smith unsuccessfully challenged Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title in 2019, losing by unanimous decision. He earned that title shot with finishes over Oezdemir, Mauricio Rua and Rashad Evans.
After the loss to Jones he beat Alexander Gustafsson in a Performance of the Night winning effort. However, he then lost back-to-back contests against Glover Teixeira and then Aleksandar Rakic.
‘Lionheart’ rebounded from those losses with his current three fight winning streak. That run started with a submission victory over Devin Clark and was followed by a TKO of Jim Crute and submission of Ryan Spann.
Smith is currently 36-16 on his career and is ranked 5th in the UFC’s light heavyweight division.