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Anthony Smith will step inside the Octagon for the fourth time this year when he takes on former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir in the UFC Fight Night 138 headliner. Smith has amassed a 6-2 record over that time, including wins over Mauricio Rua, Rashad Evans and Hector Lombard.
Most fans didn't know “Lionheart” until he joined the Ultimate Fighting Championship a second time, but those that followed him in Strikeforce and Bellator MMA knew he could wreak havoc someday. He has a ton of experience for his age and may be one of the few fighters in the division that could match the aggressiveness of Oezdemir.
Although not the most technical striker, Smith’s aggressiveness, knockout power and willingness to take a punch to give one has worked wonders. He is also one of the more active fighters you will see in the circuit, with a total of 43 fights in 10 years. Although he swings wild and often puts himself out of position to defend, his ability to mix up his attacks on the lead is what makes him so dangerous. He loves to pepper shots to the head and body, including knees and elbows in the clinch, and often leaps forward with head kicks and knees.
Since Smith is such an aggressive striker he often finds himself in the clinch or punching in the pocket against the cage. He arguably does his best work in the clinch and has some of the best elbows in the game. He will mix up his attack with knees to the body. Since he is fighting an equally aggressive opponent, I expect more clinch exchanges than usual. Smith could have a massive advantage.
Smith is almost always the leading attacker, but he does have a decent countering game when opponents find the space to strike first. Something interesting about his counters is how he never counters with a single shot and always throws a combo when opponents overextend or approach sloppily.
Something that doesn't get talked about enough with Smith and another advantage he holds over Oezdemir is his grappling. He doesn't find himself on the ground often but he does have an underrated submission game and counter takedowns. In the few times he has been backed to the cage, he has shown to be adept at ducking under strikes for a takedown. If he gets taken down he has a slick triangle off his back, which he has finished four opponents with. He also has exceptional transitional grappling for a striking-based fighter and can surprise foes on the ground.