Anthony Smith missed out on fighting at home at UFC Lincoln over the weekend, but speaking to reporters backstage at the event, he discussed his bout with Volkan Oezdemir, which he feels should silence some critics.
Lincoln, NB — Nebraska native Anthony Smith didn’t get to partake in the UFC Lincoln card over the weekend. While a couple of other fighters from the cornhusker state took part, Smith, instead, will be fighting at UFC Moncton in October. It’s a big pairing for Smith, a chance to knock off former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir.
Smith, however, still stopped by UFC Lincoln to take in the show, and spoke to reporters back stage about the card, and his recent success at light heavyweight.
“I wanted to fight on this card,” he admitted Saturday. “But it is cool to kind of be able to enjoy the UFC being in Lincoln, just seeing the crowd and the atmosphere and taking it all in a little bit.” While he didn’t get to fight at home, “I think everything happens for a reason, I think that the Shogun fight was obviously a much better opportunity, and that’s what it’s all about to me,” he said. “Me fighting in Lincoln would have been a strictly personal thing, because we wouldn’t have been able to get anybody who would have propelled my career.”
Smith’s career has skyrocketed of late thanks to a move to light heavyweight, and a pair of victories over former champions Rashad Evans and Shogun Rua. Smith said of his newfound success that he knew that “when I finally put it together, it was going to be crazy.”
“I knew that I was capable of, just wasn’t sure what the missing piece was,” he explained. “Now I think a little bit of it is my, I don’t want to say necessarily my maturity, but definitely my experience. I think my physical capacity and my mental capacity finally matched up, and not cutting the weight makes a huge difference. I can go in there with a clear mind, and focused.”
So it was the weight cut then, at least mostly. “I think that was the missing piece,” he said. “I think that everything was really, really close to coming together, but I think I was just wrecking myself. Just mentally, the stress and anxiety that I put on myself.”
“When I was in the Shogun fight, I noticed that I was able to really open up my vision a lot, and started to set traps for him, and was able to see what he was doing, and really start to read all the tells that he was giving,” Smith explained. “I’ve never been able to do that before, because I’d wrecked myself the night before, I’d feel like dogs*it, half the time I was like ‘ahh,, it kind of is what it is.'” In comparison, things are vastly different these days. Now, “I’m just hyper focused, and I don’t have to do all that weight cutting anymore, and my mindset is totally different. I honestly think that that’s probably just the missing piece.”
Smith summed the change up by saying “now the picture’s clear.”
“As much as I think it’s bullsh*t, everyone pretends like I’m out here beating up children that can’t defend themselves anymore.”
The lack of a weight cut has left Smith physically able to string together more fight camps, though fighting so frequently has taken something of an emotional toll on the family man. However, it’s a case of being careful what you wish for, since he’s “been begging for short turnarounds for a long time.”
As for the match-up with Oezdemir at UFC Moncton, there’s one theme that Smith feels will at least matter to those watching: age.
“I think for the fans, it’s going to make a difference. Because as much as I think it’s bullsh*t, everyone pretends like I’m out here beating up children that can’t defend themselves anymore,” he said. “We know that’s not the case, but it is what it is. Now it’s someone who’s younger, that’s closer to my age. I think this will really shut people up and say ‘alright, maybe he’s for real.'”
Smith credits much of his recent success to Factory X, his current home. “Marc Montoya is an unsung hero. I wish he would get a little bit more of the push that some of these other big name coaches get. But a little bit of that is on me, I think I need to do my job to show people what Mark’s really capable of.”