At this past Saturday’s UFC Pittsburgh card, Anthony “Lionheart” Smith came back from being down 2 rounds on the scorecards, to earn an epic come from behind knockout of the ever dangerous Hector Lombard. Following his sensational UFC Fight Night 116 stoppage, Smith caught up with Bloody Elbow to troubleshoot his knack for the slow start, rate his ground game, and discusses the possibility of moving up from the middleweight division to compete at 205. Oh, he also calls out a few fighters such as Krzysztof Jotko, David Branch, and then Ovince Saint Preux at 205 pounds.
Check out Anthony Smith making sure that Hector Lombard knows his name:
What slow start? Lionheart with the finish against Lombard! #UFCPittsburgh https://t.co/lVLAp7Yb0N
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) September 17, 2017
- After dropping early rounds in your recent fights, you have rallied back in each of them to score a come from behind knockout. What gives with the slow starts?
“I don’t know what the deal is. It’s like I’m just watching out there, I don’t know. I just get caught hanging out. I mean, I’m working. I think I’m just downloading information, and then using it in the third, but I’d rather not do that.”
- After you drop your opponents on the feet, you usually blast them with fight ending hammerfists. What is it about your hammerfists that seal the deal for you?
“I think just with my leverage, and my long length, I use hammerfists kind of like how you would crack a whip. It’s pretty similar to that because my arms are so long, and they’re so nasty because I do kind of crack them like a whip. Think about Thiago Silva, when that dude would ground and pound people, they were just nasty straight punches, like pistons raining down. My limbs are so long, that I have a hard time doing that. I don’t generate as much power in those short distances like that, so with hammerfists, I’m kind of able to use my leverage and whip them a little bit more, and it creates more power.”
- With 3-straight slow starts and 3-straight late finishes; could your ‘slow start and finish strong’ kind of style actually be a recipe for success?
“I think so… I’ve been through worse shit in my regular life, than I will ever be in the UFC. So, I never feel out of sorts or lost. I never feel pressure, like I never feel like I’m behind. I don’t know. I just never feel the stress that everyone feels out there. I just don’t feel it. I don’t know if that makes me fucked up in the head, or what. It’s just normal to me.”
- Although you have been placed on your back in multiple fights, you seem to do well at controlling your opponent’s posture to avoid sustaining major damage from the disadvantageous position. How would you rate your ground game?
“If you ask them, I have no ground game; I couldn’t even tie my belt in Jiu-Jitsu. I was submitted a few times pretty early in my career, a long time ago , but in recently history, I’ve been submitted 3 times. Roger Gracie , multiple time world champion, [Antonio] Braga Neto , multiple time world champion, and Josh Neer , who’s 1 of the toughest MF’ers you’ll ever meet in your life, and he’s a high level black belt…”
“I’m pretty close to my black belt. I think my ground game, as far as MMA goes, it’s probably up there in the top of the division. Cezar Ferreira took me down… he never postured, he never attempted to pass, he never attempted to rain any big punches, because he knows how good my ground game is. If you give me, even a little bit of space, I’m out. Andrew Sanchez is a world class grappler, and everyone seems to forget that and nobody talks about it, and I swept him and then defended every single one of his takedowns after that. I just choose to fight a different way. My ground game, if we were going to rate it on a scale of 1-10, and say my striking is a 7, my grappling is a 9. My ground game is much better than my striking is, and always has been.”
- You mentioned that you were open to moving up to 205; how soon were you looking to fight at light heavyweight?
“I want to say that I’m open, but right now, my path is 185. 205 is an option. Here’s what I’ll say, if I don’t get a big name, or a ranked opponent at least, at 85 then I’ll go to 205. I would like to stay at 85 for right now, as long as I can. I don’t think that there’s any question that eventually, I’ll end up at 205 permanently. I still got some fights at 85; I still got a run at 85 going. I knocked out my last 3 guys at 85; there’s no reason to leave a good thing, but I want a ranked opponent, so I’ll go wherever that ranked opponent is.”
- Are there any names that you have in mind?
“I don’t see why I can’t fight Jotko or Branch. I’d like to fight one of those guys. They are coming off of losses, and they don’t typically match winners with losers, not that they’re losers but they lost their fights. They’re ranked 10 and 11, and if you’re up there, you’re fair game. So, I don’t see why I don’t deserve that, but we’ll see. If they’re not going to give me a ranked guy at 85, then I’ll go to 205.”
- If you are to move up to 205, would you want a ranked opponent, or a warm up match to get acclimated to the new weight?
“No, man. Throw me right in the mix. I hope OSP [Ovince Saint Preux] doesn’t think I’m talking shit, because it has nothing to do with him personally, but God Damn, that fight would be fun. I don’t see how that fight doesn’t win someone a bonus, how that shit doesn’t go viral. I just don’t see me and OSP having a boring fight. I like him, and I’d rather fight someone that I like versus someone that I didn’t; it takes up less of my brain space, and I can just focus on the fight.”
- Strikeforce days with Ovince Saint Preux:
I really hope OSP doesn’t think I’m talking shit, because I have a lot of respect for that dude, and what he’s done. I remember when me and him were both in Strikeforce together, and I was fighting first or second on the prelims, that dude was on the main card, like co-main or main event. I’ve always had a lot of respect for that dude, but I’ll beat him up.”
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