Anthony Smith has made it clear he plans to run through Volkan Oezdemir tonight at UFC Moncton and lock-up a championship bout. But will “Lionheart” secure a shot at the 205 crown? If he takes out “No Time”?
It’s been an interesting, 2018, campaign for Smith, to put it mildly, as following a stoppage loss to Thiago Santos in February, Smith moved up from 185 to light-heavyweight. Since then, the dangerous vet has quickly taken out two, former champs in Rashad Evans and “Shogun” Rua. As a result, Smith is now sitting in the #10 ranking of the UFC’s light-heavyweight division, and he’s been booked for this pivotal bout with the #2 positioned, Oezdemir.
Well, while speaking to media recently about tonight’s contest, and what he hopes to achieve, Smith said the following (quotes via MMA Junkie):
“I promise you that I’m going to demolish Volkan,” Smith said. “It’s not even going to be close. I’m telling you: It’s going to be a dominant performance, and what you guys are going to read is that Volkan didn’t even deserve to be at the top, and he just had a quick rise, and no one really knew how good he was, and now we really know that he’s not that good. That’s exactly what you guys are going to read Monday.”
“…As long as I get to a title shot I don’t care what people say,” Smith said, while discussing his desire for a title fight. “It doesn’t matter to me. It’s kind of been the narrative my whole career. It’s not about how good I am. It’s always been about how bad my opponents are. That’s the narrative I used to try to change all the time, and now I don’t care. As long as I’m opposite whoever wins the Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson fight, I don’t care.”
Now, you can certainly understand why Smith hopes a big win tonight will secure a title shot, and full credit to him for relaying this. Smith obviously is extremely confident and motivated right now, and doesn’t want to waste anytime in trying to win a title.
But, is a title fight realistic at this juncture? If Smith does storm through Oezdemir and buzzes the MMA masses, then it’s certainly possible. After all, Oezdemir was handed a bout with the champ Daniel Cormier after winning three straight in the UFC, and taking out Misha Cirkunov and Jimi Manuwa.
But, what could get in Smith’s way here (aside from a defeat tonight or a controversial win) is timing. Jones and Gustafsson aren’t fighting until December 29th, so, by the time the winner of that bout is ready to defend the 205 belt, it probably won’t be until second quarter of 2019. So, the UFC might call on Smith to face, say, another top contender like say Jan Blachowicz. Of course, if Cormier ends up fighting at 205 again, then that could throw in a wrench in Smith’s plans as well.