In a night filled with fights going the distance in Hamburg, Germany on Sunday, Anthony Smith delivered a knockout finish in the UFC Fight Night 134 main event.
When Smith entered the octagon to face former champion Maruicio “Shogun” Rua, the nine previous bouts on the fight card had gone to decisions. Smith predicted a knockout leading up to the fight and made good on his forecast.
Rua pressed forward but that strategy proved to be his undoing. After a very brief feeling out process, the two exchanged leg kicks and started head hunting. Rua walked into a front kick and exploded forward in retaliation. Smith landed a counter right hand that staggered the Brazilian. Rua covered up and retreated. Smith followed up with a flurry. He landed a right hand that further hurt the former champion. A elbow along the cage put Rua out on his feet. A final left hook sent him crashing to the canvas.
It was Smith’s second fight in the light heavyweight division and has taken out two former champions by first-round knockout. He finished Rashad Evans at UFC 225 on June 9 in just 53 seconds. He attributed his recent surge to the support of his training partners and family.
“Man, I just believe in myself. I believe in my coaches, my support system at home. I’ve got three beautiful daughters and a fiance at home that they just believe in me more than anything. That’s what I think about when I come out there. I’ve got to do this for them. This isn’t about me,” “said Smith following the win.
“He pushed forward. He was swinging big. I slipped a pretty big right hand that might have put me on my butt. He landed big leg kicks like I said he was going and I just caught him coming in,” added the 29-year old.
During his post-fight interview, Smith called out top light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson. Gustafsson was scheduled to face Volkan Oezdemir at the Staples Center in Los Angeles at UFC 227 on Aug. 4. An injury foced Oexdemir out of the fight and Smith is more than willing to step in on short notice.
“I think Alexander Gustafsson needs an opponent. Gustafsson, I’ll see you in L.A.,” said Smith.