Anthony Smith on losing Jamahal Hill fight: ‘I’m not mad at the UFC. It just sucks’


Anthony Smith understands why the recent light heavyweight shake-up had to happen, but that doesn’t make him any less upset about it.

Following a split draw in the main event of UFC 282, UFC President Dana White announced that the promotion was pivoting to a vacant light heavyweight title fight between Glover Teixiera and Jamahal Hill at UFC 283.

There was one problem. Smith wasn’t told.

Smith, who was scheduled to face Hill in the main event of a Fight Night card in March, was working as an analyst on the UFC 282 post-fight show on ESPN and found out he lost the Hill fight in real time, resulting in his obvious disappointment coming out on air. Speaking with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Smith explained exactly how everything went down and how he’s felt since then.

“[ESPN producer] Jake [Lebowitz] came in my ear, I’m not even exaggerating, maybe three seconds before it came out of [ESPN broadcaster Ashley Brewer’s] mouth,” Smith told. I owe Jake a lot of credit for giving me as much information as he could. But it was the fastest they could. Jake popped in and said, ‘Hey, heads up, they’re going to announce Jamahal Hill vs. Glover for the title,’ and then she said it, and I was like, ‘God damn it.’ It sucks.”

“I’m not trying to pretend that I’ve got a terrible life or whatever, but I’ve just been on the wrong end of it for awhile,” Smith continued. “Since the [Ryan] Spann fight, it’s been nothing but terrible s*** happening. After the Spann fight I needed surgery. Then I got a staph infection. I then had surgery and my mom died. I then battled through camp. I then broke my ankle in the Ankalaev fighting when it seemed like everything was going well. I think I was finally starting to feel positive and was beginning to see a change in my life. And then, this happened. It wasn’t directed at anybody specifically, because I understand all parties involved. I understand their positions and everyone has to do what they have to do, but I was really angry. …

“It isn’t directed at anyone, but that’s what’s most concerning. I’m just angry. Some of it’s at life, some of it’s at circumstance, some of it’s at myself, but I’m not mad at Jamahal, I’m not mad at the UFC. It just sucks.”

Smith doesn’t have any negative feelings about the outcome of the situation, stating that it was an oversight. Smith explained that he was mostly upset at not being able to fight Hill. However, he could understand the UFC’s decision and the reasons they made the move.

” “It wasn’t that I lost the bout,” Smith stated. “That I lost the fight. Jamahal’s on a run, he’s streaking, it’s a fantastic opponent, I like Jamahal. It was a great feeling. I get to go in there and I get to fight someone that I actually really like. There’s no bulls***, there’s no drama, there’s no trash talk, we just go in there and we do the damn thing and the cards fall where they fall. I was really excited about that. And then it would have put me into a really good spot. …

“It seems like they’re trying to close an open circle. With Jiri kind of relinquishing the title and them like, ‘Oh, this works out perfect. We have this fix, where we have two top-level light heavyweights, one’s already held the title before and one’s right in title contention, let’s make that fight.’ So that’s supposed to close the loop, and when that doesn’t happen, I honestly think that Brazil is a fantastic market for the UFC. I think there’s some intrigue there, and they’re trying to add to that card, and I think that they owe Glover, so I think that’s some of it. “Alright. This is an opportunity for Glover to come back to you, and add some flair to your card.”

“It makes sense, because what do you do if it’s not those two guys? You can win that fight now. There is no champion. Let’s move this along. But if we start to put time in, there are many opportunities for people to insert themselves and make arguments. Sometimes it’s better to do things right away. The wheels of business have to keep turning.”

Regardless of all the circumstances, Smith is still the weakest link at the moment. “Lionheart” did mention that the UFC raised the possibility that he might serve as a backup for the Teixeira-Hill fight, and said the promotion is “adamant” that he will still fight in March if not, but they don’t have an opponent for him yet. Smith isn’t too specific about the opponent, but he does mention one fight that he likes.

“I believe there’s some people. There are also a few opportunities right now, if you really want to sign a fight. Smith stated. “I think there are a couple of fights happening soon, even on that January card that I think we could probably hang out and wait for, so I don’t really have a preference. It’s all about fighting. It is my desire to fight back.

“The Johnny Walker-Paul Craig battle is fascinating, but I couldn’t care less about Johnny Walker. It doesn’t really matter what I do, I will fight him. But, I have always wanted to fight Paul Craig. It would be just a great fight. It would be a fun fight. He is an interesting guy and he has the most jiu jitsu. I think it would be a fun fight.”

Craig faces Walker at UFC 283 on Jan. 21. Meanwhile, Smith has not competed since losing to Magomed Ankalaev at UFC 277.