Though he suffered a broken hand along the way, Anthony Smith couldn't be happier with his performance at UFC Fight Night Stockholm.
Taking on Alexander Gustafsson in the event's main event, Smith scored a career-best win, submitting his foe in the 4th round. In an interview with ESPN's 'Ariel Helwani's MMA Show,' Smith reflected on the victory in detail. “I think that the fight went perfect. It wasn’t the prettiest thing in the world but for me, that’s exactly what I wanted. I wanted to go in and I wanted to feel him out and kind of problem solve on the fly.
"That’s why I started a little bit slow and I had to work out of whatever BS I was dealing with from the Jon thing. I kind of started it similar, where I was watching too much and I was being defensively sound but I really wasn’t letting it go. Some of that’s Alex too, you can feel in there that he’s setting traps on top of trying to figure out what he’s doing and defending it, you’ve gotta try to figure out the puzzle that he’s got in front of you as well."
Once Smith finally did solve that puzzle, the reaction was unique. After witnessing their countryman's defeat, the Swedish crowd was suddenly silent, providing a staggering contrast to Smith's success. In truth though, Smith related to their reaction in some ways. “I didn’t really feel that ecstatic feeling afterwards. I mean obviously I was really, really happy and really relieved that it all worked out and I was able to do it but honestly, I kind of felt bad for him.
"That’s why I rolled him over and I wanted to have a few words with him before the commission and the doctors and all those other people came in. The silence was just insane, going from how loud it was . . . it was insane. The silence is sadness you know? And that sucks. It sucks for him. It sucks for his family and his team but I got stuff to do and my families gotta eat and I got a goal I gotta accomplish still.”
That goal looks more intact than ever after Saturday night, with Smith retaining his spot as one of the division's premier contenders. It's unclear how the landscape could shift in his absence though.
For Helwani's full interview with Smith, click here.