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Is Anthony Smith the new "gatekeeper" in the light heavyweight division 

Anthony Smith finds himself in a perilious situation after his loss against Aleksandar Rakic.
Anthony Smith finds himself in a perilious situation after his loss against Aleksandar Rakic.
Mibom Taggu
ANALYST
Modified 30 Aug 2020, 15:38 IST
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Anthony Smith seems like a different guy nowadays inside the octagon. To get dominated the way Anthony Smith did by up and comer Aleksandar Rakic is not the guy who clawed his way into a title shot against light heavyweight GOAT Jon Jones.

The Anthony Smith we saw at the Apex today was a shell of his former self as Rakic managed to outstrike the former title challenger to a ratio of 3.5:1. If the main event had been a five-round extravaganza, maybe things would have turned out to be quite different for Anthony Smith.

But as things stand currently in the UFC's light heavyweight division, Anthony Smith just saw himself losing to the no.8 ranked guy in the division. Losing has never been a good omen for fighters in the UFC and is surprising considering the successful 2019 that Anthony Smith enjoyed.

This was the guy who retired Alexander Gustafsson in his native Sweden while showing his bravery to survive Jon Jones' onslaught at UFC 235. Anthony Smith could have even bailed out and claimed the title due to an illegal knee by Jones in the fourth round but he kept ongoing.

2020 though has flipped the script on Anthony Smith's narrative and has left him in a precocious position. Two back to back losses in three months means Anthony Smith has a lot to prove to himself and the UFC the next time he steps inside an octagon.

While Anthony Smith may never confess to this, I feel he is still reeling mentally from the home invasion incident which occurred on April 5th of this year. In an interview with Ariel Helwani, he described the ordeal as "one of the toughest fights of my life".

Anthony Smith had fought the guy for five minutes and according to him," took everything that I gave him – every punch, every knee, every elbow. He took every single one of them and kept fighting me"

MMA fighters are some of the toughest people on the face of the planet and for him to not be able to dispose of an intruder will have played with his mind and on his confidence. For a guy with 49 fights on his record, Anthony Smith is relatively quite young at the age of 32.

But with the Corey Anderson, the long time gatekeeper of the division moving on to Bellator, Anthony Smith will have to be very conscious while winning against elite opponents if he is to avoid that unwanted tag.

Published 30 Aug 2020, 15:38 IST
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