Anthony Smith doesn’t agree with the notion Jan Blachowicz should be projected as the next man up for a UFC light heavyweight title shot.
The former champ Blachowicz (29-9 MMA, 12-6 UFC) technically defeated Aleksandar Rakic (14-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) in the UFC on ESPN 36 main event this past Saturday, but the knee injury that caused an abrupt end to the fight left some questions unanswered.
“The way that it ended was just unfortunate because I really wanted to see how those two guys match up with each other,” Smith said on the “Believe You Me” podcast with Michael Bisping. “Me and Aleksandar Rakic, we’re not best friends and we’re not sending each other Christmas cards, but we have no personal issue with each other, it’s just competitive tension. … I don’t want to see anybody injured and out for a long time and not able to feed their families.”
Rakic defeated Smith (36-16 MMA, 11-6 UFC) by unanimous decision in the main event of UFC Fight Night 175 in August 2020. Since then, Smith has ripped through three-straight opponents. As a former title challenger with a matchup against Magomed Ankalaev on the horizon at UFC 277 on July 30, Smith thinks it’s a little premature to assume Blachowicz is next for a crack at 205-pound gold, which is slated to be defended next month at UFC 275 when Glover Teixeira meets Jiri Prochazka.
“As far as Jan moving straight into a title fight, all that talk really was kind of confusing the sh*t out of me, to be honest with you,” Smith said. “Prochazka’s coming up, and who knows what’s going to happen there. But in my opinion, I think Glover wins that fight. I think he’s probably the underdog, but at least in my eyes, he’s favored in most areas of that fight.
“If Rakic won that fight, I don’t really have much to say. It doesn’t leave me in a position to really politic my way into a title fight very well, even with a win over Ankalaev. Because he has a straight-up win over me. I would have to sit back, shut up and wait my turn. But with Jan, his title fight (with Teixeira) wasn’t super competitive, he didn’t defend verse any light heavyweight. I’m not going to discredit the win over (Israel) Adesanya at all. It’s a fantastic win. But it’s over a middleweight. He didn’t defend it against any 205ers. And he got kind of smoked. Credit to him, big fan of the guy, but it wasn’t competitive in that fight at all.”
While Smith can’t control what happens in the upcoming title fight, he can make some noise in his fight against Ankalaev to bolster his argument that the winner of their fight should, at minimum, be in consideration for a shot at the belt.
“I think that the winner of my fight with Ankalaev, I think has a better resume recently, moving into a title fight with the winner of Jiri and Glover. That’s my opinion. I’m obviously biased. I just felt like we were just getting written off a little bit like that fight’s not even happening. Like there’s no other option other than Jan Blachowicz. And that’s not the case. I think Ankalaev and I are going to have a lot to say about that.”