Anthony Smith may have had a tough weight cut at UFC 277, but it was nothing compared to what he used to go through to make 185 pounds.
At UFC 277, Smith had a difficult time making the light heavyweight limit, having to use of the towel to make 206-pounds and generally looking pretty drained. Ultimately, Smith hit the mark though and kept up his record of never having missed weight in the UFC. But to hear him tell it, “Lionheart” used to struggle mightily with making the cut at middleweight.
“If the cuts to ’85 back in the day were a 10, I would say I was at a six,” Smith told said on The MMA Hour when asked about the UFC 277 weight cut. “… The cuts to ’85 were a 10. There were several times when I was cutting to ’85 that I wasn’t sure I was going to live. It was terrible.
” I used to need to sit behind the curtain and wait for them to get it out. Then, they would have to make me stand. They would need to place the [manual] scale exactly at the spot I indicated on the scale. I wouldn’t stand for much longer if they kept it there and didn’t let me f*** with it too long. So they would say, ‘What does he think he’s at?’ and I’d tell them I’m right on 186, on the dot. Then I’d kneel, and I’d have to kneel with my head up, and as soon as I stood my coaches would get me up, I’d stand on the scale, and that’s why I was rushed to the back, because I wasn’t going to be conscious much longer. It was impossible for me to walk five minutes from my hotel up to the scale. If it was a five minute walk, it would take me 15 minutes because every five steps or so I’d have to kneel because I was trying to stay conscious.”
Despite having to fight at heavyweight for most of his career, Smith only came in heavy one time, weighing 188 lbs in Strikeforce’s 2011. bout. He made the move to light heavyweight in 2018, and has had no issues making the weight until UFC 277, which Smith puts down to adding on muscle for his fight with Magomed Ankalaev.
“It wasn’t as bad as cutting to 185, but it was a tough one,” Smith said. The last year was focused on building strength, size and physical fitness to be able physically to compete with the top five guys. I did this and felt great. That comes with a weight loss.
“Super lean. On Tuesday, I believe I was just over 230. It’s possible that I miscalculated the numbers a bit. It just didn’t come off as fast as I expected it to during the week. So I had a good chunk to do Thursday night, Friday morning…
” I wouldn’t say that it was bad. It was just a weight loss. This was my first major one at 205.. It was a great feeling. It was just the extra muscle and size I put on. And I think I just misjudged it through the week. The UFC asked me several times. I think they were like, ‘Jesus, you checked in pretty heavy.’ They kept saying, ‘Do you want us to help you? Are you asking us to keep an eye on this? This has been going on for a while. They were able to manage the situation, but I think that I misjudged them. But it was fine. I think I did from Thursday night to Friday morning, I think I cut 14 [pounds].”
Smith said that the weight gain was not made to confront Ankalaev but was an ongoing goal since losing to Aleksandar Rakic 2020,. Feeling small was also a factor.
“It was back to 230 Saturday. Just rehydrated, then I ate. Smith stated that Rakic was the person who made me realize that I had to gain weight because he was so powerful and heavy. “That was the first time I’d ever felt like I just got stuck because someone was stronger than me. I’ve obviously been in there with really good guys, guys that are crazy technical and you get behind and are stuck, but he was so strong. And I kind of cheated. When I was in the back after the fight and they were checking me out, they have your fight night weight written down, and he was 238.”
Unfortunately, Smith’s extra weight didn’t help against Ankalaev. Smith lost by second-round TKO after suffering a leg break in the first round of their fight. Smith had surgery to repair the injury and will be out of action for several months as he rehabs his leg.