Prior to UFC Stockholm, Anthony Smith let it be known that he’d like to fight Luke Rockhold, pretty much, anytime, anywhere. But, following his big win over Alexander Gustafsson, “Lionheart” says his rival has some work to do at 205, before the two throw down.
If you’ve followed Smith’s rise up the UFC’s 205 ranks, then you know that rise has included heated exchanges with Rockhold. As Smith fought his way up into an eventual title fight with Jon Jones, Rockhold told the MMA world he was far from impressed with the former middleweight. Those comments didn’t sit well with Smith, and a sizeable beef has materialized.
Well, Smith took on Alexander Gustafsson last weekend, and he proceeded to submit the longtime, top contender in round four. Since then, the noted finisher spoke with MMA Fighting. Smith had this to say about his win and how it impacts facing Rockhold:
“At this point, I don’t know what else I’d have to do to answer any questions of my legitimacy. Honestly I don’t care. I’m just really happy that I’ve inserted myself among the top two guys in the world or three guys in the world if you keep D.C. in there…”
“The only way you’re going to take that away is you’ve got to beat me. There’s no more jockeying for position and trying to get the good fights and figuring out who’s next. That s—t is over. Now if you want my spot, you’ve got to take it. Instead of me chasing people, now they’ve got to come to me.”
“It’s the same thing with [Luke] Rockhold, you want to talk all that s—t, now you’ve got to do your job. Now you’ve got to earn it,” Smith said. “I don’t owe you s—t. Now you’ve got to come to me and you’ve got to do something to deserve it. That’s a good position to be in.”
Now, even if you really want to see Rockhold fight Smith, and that’s completely understandable, the latter has a point. Rockhold will need to beat Jan Blachowicz at UFC 232, July 6th, in order to secure a fight with Smith, or any other top-ranked 205’er next for that matter. In fact, considering Smith is ranked #3, you could argue that Rockhold will need to score an impressive win over Blachowicz.
One thing is for certain, these are interesting times in the light-heavyweight division.