Anthony Smith is in for the biggest fight of his life, within a year of fighting former UFC and Bellator Champions.
Volkan Oezdemir was pulled from his July 22 fight with Maricio "Shogun" Rua in favor of a UFC 227 bout with Alexander Gustafsson. With Shogun's dance card wide open, the former middleweight Anthony Smith jumped on the opportunity.
"My manager called and said 'I have a statemented question for you. You're fighting Shogun July 22 in Hamburg, Germany.' Everybody who knows me knows it's not much of a question. Tell me who and when I gotta be there," said Smith. "It's pretty crazy to fight two former champions and two people I've looked up to in a two month span."
Smith's manager was actually with another client -- former UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic -- ahead of UFC 226 when he delivered the news. After retiring the legendary Rashad Evans, Smith seems to think that Rua is a little more calculated in his approach to taking fights.
"He's got a lot of miles on his body. Fighting once a year over the past few years means he's taking the right fights, and it means that he's healing. I think he's going to be healthy. Stylistically I think we match up really well. I think I'm significantly faster, more dynamic. He's had the same fighting style for quite a while, he's hyper aggressive. Shogun's not getting a chubby, out of shape, short notice replacement," said Smith.
Current UFC double champion Daniel Cormier recently said that he'd be open to fighting Rua in the fall, which didn't sit too well with Smith.
"I don't know what's going on with Daniel Cormier. He's been saying recently that he thinks Shogun is next in line, completely dismissing the fact that Shogun has to face me. I'm not sure what DC's problem is. He's smarter than that. He's an analyst, he knows that anyone can lose at any time. He's also smart enough to know that I'm capable of walking through Shogun. There's no way that people who do this for a living can look at this fight and not know that can happen. If you think Shogun is next in line, and I go in and I starch him, what does that say? Me and you are together now, bitch," said Smith before saying that Corey Anderson, Volkan Oezdemir and others are more likely opponents for him after the Rua fight. "He complains about being overlooked, and then he dissed me. He'll hear this and overlook it and act like I don't exist. He's not looking for challenges."
In the full interview, Anthony Smith (29-13) discusses his upcoming fight against Mauricio Shogun Rua (25-10) at UFC Fight night 134 on July 22.