Anthony Smith knows exactly what he’s getting himself into.
When he first started calling for a title fight after submitting Volkan Oezdemir last October, the light heavyweight champion was still Daniel Cormier and it wasn’t until a few months later that he surrendered the belt and Jon Jones defeated Alexander Gustafsson to win the vacant title.
From that moment on, Smith has never backed down from his desire to fight for the title, even if that meant he had to go through the longest reigning light heavyweight champion in UFC history.
Jones didn’t earn his reputation inside the Octagon by accident because he may be the most talented mixed martial artist to ever strap on a pair of gloves. Taking on a fighter of that caliber has been a daunting task for every opponent who fought him.
In fact, it’s possible — even if few would admit it — that Jones had them at a disadvantage from the second the fight started due to the fact that he’s such an imposing force of nature whenever he competes.
It’s for that very reason why Smith truly believes he’s the person best suited to conquer the conqueror — because he’s determined to tear Jones down as a problem that needs to be solved rather than building him up as the greatest of all time.
“I think you can’t get wrapped up into who Jon Jones is and that’s what people do,” Smith explained when speaking to MMAWeekly. “That’s what [Alexander Gustafsson] did. I don’t understand how people let that happen at this level but at the same time now that I’ve been face to face with Jon, if you have a little bit of bitch in you and you’re just a little unsure of yourself, Jon has a presence. He has an aura about him.
“If you’re the kind of person that gives as s—t about that, I could see how that could get into your head. I just don’t care.”
At the same time, the Nebraska native still knows as great as Jones might be, he makes mistakes and has his flaws inside the cage just like every fighter in history and that’s what he’s looking to expose.
“I’ll never be the person to say Jon Jones isn’t skilled. I’m fine with saying that. At the same time, you can’t hold him up on a pedestal,” Smith said.
“I don’t care how good he is. No one fights me the same way they fight everybody else. If you go back and look at all my opponents, look at how they fought me and then look at how they fought the person before me. It’s never the same. The same presence and aura that Jon Jones brings to the fight is the same look that I get on everyone else’s faces when they’re in front of me. People can tell that I don’t f—king care.”
That attitude may be one factor that Jones hasn’t faced recently or perhaps at all during his title run in the UFC.
It’s one thing to talk a big game before the fight happens and Smith understands that’s just part of the job going into an event of this magnitude.
What backs up Smith’s bold proclamation is a body of work that he’s assembled throughout his career that prove he’s capable of being knocked down and getting back up.
A resume filled with fights he wasn’t supposed to win but he did.
A winning record built on opponents who critics said were better than him that left the cage broken, bloodied and beaten.
On Saturday night, Smith intends to add Jones to that list.
“I don’t care about Jon Jones. I don’t at all,” Smith stated. “This training camp hasn’t been about Jon Jones at all. It’s been about the problems he brings to the table. He’s just a blank face with a body and I’m going to run through that body.
“It’s going to shock the world and they’re all going to be surprised but I’m not. There’s not going to be some huge celebration and I’m not going to cry in the Octagon and pretend that I just pulled off some impossible feat cause I expected to be here.”