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With the sun having set—at least temporarily—on Jon Jones’ remarkable but tumultuous reign over the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s light heavyweight division, the process of finding his successor begins in earnest.
In what amounts to a pivotal opportunity for both men, Anthony Smith will toe the line against Aleksandar Rakic in the UFC Fight Night 175 main event on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The winner figures to have a vested interest in the forthcoming Dominick Reyes-Jan Blachowicz showdown, which will decide the fate of the vacant 205-pound championship in September. For now, their eyes are fixed on one another.
Smith has compiled a 4-2 record since he made a career-altering move to light heavyweight in 2018, though he ultimately lost a lopsided decision to Jones in a failed bid to capture the undisputed championship. The former Cage Fury Fighting Championships and Victory Fighting Championships titleholder last appeared at UFC Fight Night 171, where Glover Teixeira buried him with an avalanche of fifth-round ground-and-pound.
The American Top Team-trained Rakic has emerged as one of the top young talents in the division. However, the 28-year-old Austrian suffered his first setback in more than eight years in December, when Volkan Oezdemir put a stop to his 12-fight winning streak with a contentious split decision at UFC Fight Night 165. Rakic has delivered 10 of his 12 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
UFC Fight Night “Smith vs. Rakic”—which streams live to ESPN+ at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT—also features a welterweight co-headliner matching Neil Magny with Robbie Lawler, a women’s flyweight tilt pairing Alexa Grasso with Ji Yeon Kim, a featherweight affair pitting Ricardo Lamas against Bill Algeo and a light heavyweight rematch slotting Magomed Ankalaev opposite Ion Cutelaba. Anchored by a middleweight clash between Maki Pitolo and recent Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Impa Kasanganay, the six-fight undercard streams live to ESPN+ at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT.
A closer look at the UFC Fight Night 175 “Smith vs. Rakac” particulars:
THE LINEUP205: Anthony Smith vs. Aleksandar Rakic
170: Neil Magny vs. Robbie Lawler
125: Alexa Grasso vs. Ji Yeon Kim
145: Ricardo Lamas vs. Bill Algeo
205: Magomed Ankalaev vs. Ion Cutelaba
185: Maki Pitolo vs. Impa Kasanganay
185: Zak Cummings vs. Alessio Di Chirico
145: Alex Caceres vs. Austin Springer
170: Sean Brady vs. Christian Aguilera
115: Emily Whitmire vs. Polyana Viana
115: Mallory Martin vs. Hannah Cifers
THE RUNDOWN• Preview: The Main Card
• Preview: The Prelims
• Weigh-in Report
• By The Numbers: Smith vs. Rakic
• Rivalries: Robbie Lawler
• Prime Picks
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