Johnny Walker hopes beating Anthony Smith doesn’t result in retirement

Johnny Walker believes Anthony Smith, who he defeated at UFC on ABC 4, still has a couple of good years left.

By: Lucas Rezende | 2 weeks ago
Johnny Walker hopes beating Anthony Smith doesn’t result in retirement
Johnny Walker went the distance against Anthony Smith for a win in Saturday's co-main event. | IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

UFC light heavyweight contender Johnny Walker does not want to see his latest opponent call it a career just yet. Despite having defeated Anthony Smith via unanimous decision at UFC on ABC 4, the Brazilian believes ‘Lionheart’ still has some fight left him, at least in the near future, even though Smith himself may have hinted at a potential retirement after their battle in last Saturday’s card’s co-main event.

Will Anthony Smith retire from MMA?

Pundits and fans wondered whether or not a disheartened Smith was about to retire from the sport when Lionheart looked like he was going to lay his gloves on the mat after his loss to Walker, but ended up not following through.

At the UFC on ABC 4 post-fight press conference, Walker explained why he would be against Smith’s decision, should Lionheart actually decides to retire. In his answer, Walker predicted that his last opponent could at least keep on fighting for two more years.

“He still has something,” Walker said (transcribed by MMA Fighting). “He can keep fighting a little bit more. Maybe until he’s 36 or something.”

Walker respects Smith’s legacy

When thinking about what Smith was able to accomplish in his career, Walker believes there is much to be proud about. Although Lionheart could not make it champion, coming up short when he had a chance to take on Jon Jones, the Brazilian still considers it a successful career. In fact, it is one that inspires Walker to try and do the same for himself now.

Given that Walker was able to put the worst moment of his UFC career behind him, he now hopes to keep the streak going until he makes it to a title fight.

“It was sad,” Walker said of his opponent’s post-fight gesture. “It’s a career. But I think he had a good opportunity. He fought for the belt. He made his history, his legacy already, so let me try to do mine now.”

Smith’s UFC career dates back to 2013

The win over Smith put Walker (21-7) on a three-fight winning streak, with wins over Paul Craig and Ion Cutelaba, prior to his win at UFC on ABC 4. Before that, however, the 31-year-old was 1-4 in his last five outings, with losses to Jamahal Hill, Thiago Santos, Nikita Krylov and Corey Anderson. The Brazilian’s only win during that time was a knockout victory over Ryan Spann, in September 2020.

Meanwhile, Anthony Smith (36-18) is now on a two-fight losing skid, with a TKO defeat to Magomed Ankalaev in July 2022, before his loss to Walker. Prior to the back-to-back defeats, the 34-year-old was on a three-fight winning streak, with victories over Devin Clark, Jimmy Crute and most recently, in September 2021, Ryan Spann. All said wins came by way of submission or knockouts.

Smith’s first UFC stint was a one-and-done deal after Strikeforce got absorbed by the larger promotion and the then middleweight was part of the roster that came with it, alongside big names such as Daniel Cormier, Luke Rockhold and Fabricio Werdum. However, a first-round submission loss to Antonio Braga Neto in June 2013 sent him to the regional circuit for the next two and a half years until he returned to the Octagon in 2016.

Upon his return, the 34-year-old found much more success in this second stint, especially after moving up the light heavyweight division in June 2018. At the heavier weight class, Lionheart scored the biggest wins of his career, over former UFC champions Rashad Evans, Mauricio Rua and title challengers Alexander Gustafsson and Volkan Oezdemir.

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About the author
Lucas Rezende
Lucas Rezende

Lucas Rezende is a Brazilian journalist and writer from Belem, Para. He has been covering MMA since 2012 and contributing with Bloody Elbow since March 2015. When not writing, Lucas also teaches English. In his free time, he enjoys reading, slapping the bass guitar and traveling.

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