After losing his title challenge against Jon Jones, Anthony Smith rebounded in major fashion at UFC Stockholm, scoring an impressive upset win.
Taking on Alexander Gustafsson in the event's main event, Smith entered as the away fighter and a sizable underdog too. Against the odds, Smith had success throughout, eventually closing the show with a Rear-Naked Choke in the 4th round. It was a tremendous showing for Smith but even still, 'Lionheart' isn't yet satisfied. “Well, not completely, which is kind of indicative of my whole life,” he admitted to reporters.
“I think that I have the answer of what’s going to make it go away, and it never does. I’m very happy. I’m going to sleep good tonight. But we’ve got to get better, because I didn’t do everything I wanted to do.” Beyond just this particular night, that loss opposite Jones still looms over the Light Heavyweight contender. With that in mind, Smith's target couldn't be more simple: a rematch with the champion.
“I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve told Jon – I’ll see you again,” Smith promised. “And that’s what I’m working toward. I’m working toward the fight with Jon. I want to get back to the title shot, and that’s the goal. So whatever that looks like when I come back, I’ll figure out this hand injury and go from there. I wouldn’t still be here if I wasn’t chasing Jon Jones.”
Before that though, Smith intends to take a long awaited break. “I can just sit at the top and let those guys fight it out. I’m going to hang out up here for a while and we’ll see what it looks like later on.” One guy that seemingly won't be 'fighting it out' is Smith's latest foe: Alexander Gustafsson. After being submitted by Smith, Gustafsson announced his retirement in the cage. After sharing the cage with 'The Mauler' though, Smith's perspective is a little different.
“I just hope that he doesn’t look at a loss to me as something super negative, because I think people are having a hard time getting used to me being at the top. And I don’t think me beating him is a reflection of him falling off the wagon or losing his edge, or not being good any more. I’m just not going to be turned away. I hope that he can look at it like that. It sounds silly, but it’s not you, it’s me.”
Nonetheless, Smith's focus remains on his own triumph, an unparalleled feat within his lengthy career. “I think it’s absolutely the biggest (win) of my career, probably the one I’m most proud of, just because of what happened in my last fight. Typically, guys that come off of title losses don’t bounce back like that.”
Our post-show podcast for UFC Fight Night Stockholm can be found here.