Anthony Smith is getting back in the saddle quickly after his loss to Jon Jones at UFC 235, accepting a fight with two-time title challenger Alexander Gustafsson at UFC Stockholm on June 1.
Smith is licking his wounds after his hard fought loss to Jon Jones earlier this month, and now faces the difficult task of meeting “The Mauler” in his backyard in Sweden. While Gustafsson professes respect for his opponent, he says a loss to “Lionheart” would seriously make him consider his future in the sport (transcript via MMA Fighting)
“He’s a big hitter and he has a lot of heart and he has a lot of fights behind him,” Gustafsson said. “He’s a guy with a good team behind him, and this is going to be a real challenge. And that’s why I’m doing this, to challenge myself. When I beat him, I’m going to just move in the rankings. If I don’t beat him, if he beats me, then maybe I don’t have it anymore. So I’ll just take it from there.”
Both men are coming off losses to the 205-pound king, and Gustafsson sees similarities between himself and Smith, both of whom will be trying to prove they are better than the version of themselves that fought Jones for the belt.
“He’s in shape and he feels like I feel,” Gustafsson said. “Like, he just lost and he wants to prove that he’s better than what he showed, and he just wants to get back to fighting and winning again. So I think he’s in shape and I think he’s ready for this, and he’s ready to fight me and he wants to beat me, so I understand him perfectly.”
Gustafsson said he’s not judging Smith’s performance against Jones considering he lost as well but is looking forward to putting on a great fight for his vocal home fans.
“I’m not the right guy to judge him,” added Gustafsson. “I just fought Jon and lost myself. He showed some heart and he took some damage and just kept moving, so he’s a warrior and I can’t wait to have him over and give the fans a really good show.”