While he entered a sizable underdog, Anthony Smith is still disappointed with his performance opposite Jon Jones.
Riding a three fight win streak, Smith entered the bout in career best form, finishing Rashad Evans, Mauricio Rua and Volkan Oezdemir respectively. Against Jones though, 'Lionheart' struggled to build any momentum and months later, is still left confused by the whole thing. “I still can’t [explain it] and that’s the problem,” Smith admitted in an appearance on The MMA Hour. “It didn’t feel any different. The media obligations were a little bit crazier, Vegas was pretty wild, there was a lot of fans, I got recognized a lot more. But other than that, it felt normal.
"The whole camp felt good. I mean, if we’re really going to split hairs, then I think training camp was a little bit too long. But I can’t put my finger on anything. Fight night I felt good, walking to the Octagon I felt good, right before the fight started I felt fine and looked better than I’ve ever been. I was sharp, I was on point. So I don’t know what happened.”
Nonetheless, Smith now must move on, fighting Alexander Gustafsson this weekend at UFC Fight Night Stockholm. However, Smith refuses to overthink things. “To be honest with you, I don’t give a f**k what happens in the fight. I want to perform and that’s it. I want to hit him as many times as I possibly can, I want to punch when I can punch, I want to kick when I can kick and if he gets to close I’ll drag him to the f**king ground and if he gets up then I’ll do it again. That’s all I want to do. I want to perform. That’s as far as my mind has gone.
"After that, we’ll see what happens because it’s not even about Alex, it’s about me. This is about wanting to take a break but I can’t do it with this burning feeling in my stomach. I have this feeling where I just need to destroy something. So whatever happens in the interim, it doesn’t matter to me. I just need to get this feeling out of my stomach and it’s driving me crazy and it keeps me up at night. I just don’t give a s**t. It could be Alex, it could have been 10 other guys in the division. There’s no game-plan.
"Those last two fights, I think I got a little too intricate with the gameplans and I think it made me think too much. I’m an instinctual fighter and I always have been so I think got away brought me to the dance. I’m a pressure guy that gets in your face and swings hammers. I could be a super clean striker that’s really pretty and ‘OOs’ and ‘AHHs’ everybody. But deep down in my heart, that’s not who I am and I think that, I don’t know, maybe I was trying to be something I’m not [against Jones].”
Smith's fight with Gustafsson takes place at the Ericsson Globe on Saturday night and airs on ESPN+. The full card can be found below:
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Anthony Smith
Volkan Oezdemir vs. Ilir Latifi
Jimi Manuwa vs. Aleksandar Rakic
Makwan Amirkhani vs. Chris Fishgold
Damir Hadžovićvs.Christos Giagos
Daniel Teymur vs. Jo Sung-Bin
Tonya Evinger vs. Lina Lansberg
Leonardo Santos vs. Stevie Ray
Nick Hein vs. Frank Camacho
Bea Malecki vs. Eduarda Santana
Devin Clark vs. Darko Stosic
Joel Alvarez vs. Danilo Belluardo