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‘Never seen it in combat sports’ - Anthony Smith shares UFC doctor’s reaction to ‘weird’ leg break

The UFC light heavyweight is headed for surgery after suffering a leg injury at UFC 277. 

Anthony Smith suffered a unique leg injury in his fight against Magomed Ankalaev at UFC 277 this past Saturday.

The No. 5 light heavyweight was finished by second-round TKO after he found himself underneath Ankalaev, who unleashed some ground-and-pound on a clearly compromised Smith until the referee waved off the fight. Smith was helped out of the Octagon and was said to have suffered a broken leg, which has since been confirmed by ‘Lionheart’ and UFC president Dana White.

Now days removed from his fight against Ankalaev, Smith shared his perspective on what happened during an appearance on the Believe You Me podcast with Michael Bisping. The Factory X product thought he was performing well until a kick from Ankalaev caused an odd sensation in his leg.

“I got through with a couple of right hands and really, the first round was just to gather information,” said Smith. “I wasn’t trying — the plan was never to go out and try to finish him in the first. I wanted to pressure him and get him uncomfortable and get him outside of his box and see what he would do. And I did that. I felt really good about everything that happened in the first round. I wasn’t even — I was willing to throw away the first round, just to see what he was going to do. I think about the 1:30 mark — don’t quote me on the exact time but, about the 1:30 mark I think I threw a hard overhand and we were going rear leg to his left side. So I went high kick a couple of times and then I went overhand a couple of times and it was only just to keep his left hand home because that was the only danger. That’s the danger when you’re on opposite stances.

“So I threw this hard overhand and it was just a little short and he came back with a hard leg kick,” continued Smith. “And my whole leg went numb. It was an inside leg kick and it went numb from the knee down. It was only like 20 seconds. It came back pretty quick, but I didn’t really think anything of it. Just hit a weird nerve and your leg goes numb. Shortly after that, we got tangled up like in a weird kick — you know how it gets with opposite stances. Your feet get tangled up sometimes and I went to step back with my left foot and it wasn’t anything there. It was weird.”

Perhaps weirder than the sensation was the location of the injury, which is supposedly unusual in mixed martial arts. That is according to Smith, who said UFC chief doctor Jeff Davidson had not seen anything like that in his near 30 years of experience.

“It’s in such a weird spot that they can’t even plate it,” said Smith. “It’s like a continuation of my leg bone. It’s a medial malleolus break. And there’s another bone that’s dislocated that won’t go back in until they fix it. It’s not like a typical combat sports break. It’s a weird break. Dr. D, said in 29 years, he’s never seen it in combat sports.”

Smith expects to undergo surgery on Saturday. It is unclear how long he is out of action for, but it is likely Smith does not return to the Octagon until 2023.

Prior to his loss to Ankalev, Smith was on a three-fight win streak.