Anthony Smith had a breakout year in 2018 with wins over two former Ultimate Fighting Championship champions in Rashad Evans and Mauricio Rua before dispatching Volkan Oezdemir in October, solidifying him as the No. 1 contender in the UFC’s 205-pound division.
Lionheart’s form has been good enough that the UFC offered him a title fight against arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet in Jon Jones at UFC 235 on March 2. Smith heads into the fight with Jones as the overwhelming underdog although according to Smith’s last opponent Oezdemir, Jones should be looking to finish him quickly or he may have difficulty dealing with Smith’s durability.
“I think I’m still going to have to go with Jones but Anthony Smith is a surprising fighter,” Oezdemir said to The Body Lock. “He’s durable and I think that’s one of his weapons — a way he’s going to upset everybody with Jon Jones.
“He’s still there, he has tons of experience, a lot of long fights, and a lot of success and knockouts in the later rounds,” he added. “Somebody you need to finish really quick and that’s something Jon Jones will have to do.”
Oezdemir got the better of his exchanges with Smith in their fight last year but couldn’t finish him, and eventually Smith recovered to get the submission win.