Anthony Smith has taken out two former light-heavyweight champs, a top ranked 205 contender and a former middleweight champ in the last two years, and clearly the abilities of “Lionheart” have caught the attention of Jon Jones’ coach.
Since Smith returned to the UFC in 2016, the now former middleweight has stopped former Bellator champ Hector Lombard, former UFC champs in “Shogun” Rua and Rashad Evans, and most recently former title challenger, Volkan Oezdemir. As a result of the last three wins mentioned here, Smith has been booked to face the 205 champ Jones at UFC 235, March 2nd.
Well, recently one of Jones’ striking coaches, Mike Winkeljohn appeared on “The MMA Hour”. While discussing Smith, and his abilities, the New Mexico coach said this (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“Tough,” Winkeljohn said. “Just big balls to keep going. He has the ability to come back, I think the scariest thing about him is just that. As you saw in his last fight with Volkan (Oezdemir)…
“[Smith]’s good at a lot of things,” Winkeljohn added. “It’s his depth and his long range punches, the problem with that is that Jon’s even longer. He has the ability to throw punches at different times, his straight right hand is really, really effective especially in his counter mode against Jon. That’s what I’m worried about. And then he takes people down, there’s no doubt about it.
“I just think he’s going to have a hard night against Jon Jones, because I think Jon’s better everywhere. But I think his boxing skills are very tight. If I thought anything was going to be scary, it would be that. He’s definitely great everywhere, so we have to be on our toes, but he’s got to deal with Jon’s length and Jon’s ability to adapt.”
There’s no question that Smith has demonstrated in several of his UFC appearances that he’s ridiculously tough, durable and dangerous. But, in Jones, he will be taking on one of the most well rounded, athletic and gifted fighters the game has ever known. Thus, this is why Jones is currently a massive favorite to win the March 2nd bout. Currently the champ is the favorite in the range of -909 to -1378. Smith, meanwhile, is the underdog with odds ranging from +500 to +812.
Here is the complete line-up for UFC 235, which will go down in Las Vegas, Nevada.
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship
Jon Jones (c) vs. Anthony Smith
UFC Welterweight Championship
Tyron Woodley (c) vs. Kamaru Usman
Welterweight: Robbie Lawler vs. Ben Askren
Strawweight: Tecia Torres vs. Weili Zhang
Welterweight: Diego Sanchez vs. Mickey Gall
Female Bantamweight: Gina Mazany vs. Macy Chiasson
Female Bantamweight: Holly Holm vs. Aspen Ladd
Featherweight: Jeremy Stephens vs. Zabit Magomedsharipov
Light Heavyweight: Ovince Saint Preux vs. Misha Cirkunov
Bantamweight: Cody Garbrandt vs. Pedro Munhoz