Aleksandar Rakic notched the biggest win of his career in the main-event of UFC Vegas 8, dominating Anthony Smith en route to a decision win.
With the entire MMA world turned on its head after Jon Jones vacated his light heavyweight title, the story heading into UFC Vegas 8 had changed. No longer was this about redemption for Anthony Smith, or moving to the next level for Aleksandar Rakic. Instead, a strong performance from either could actually insert them in the title conversation. Especially with Glover Teixeira vs. Thiago Santos fighting just two weeks later.
Rarely are title shots in the UFC ever a given. The winner of Dominick Reyes vs. Jan Blachowicz at UFC 253 will be the UFC’s new light heavyweight champion. The winner of Teixeira vs. Santos would seem to have a case as the number one contender. But an injury, a dull fight, or a more marketable performance from one of Smith or Rakic — anything could shake up the mix.
Rakic started the fight by attacking Smith’s lead leg immediately. He slammed some hard shots and Smith responded with some hard leg kicks of his own. However, Rakic landed the harder shots, and Rakic dropped Smith after two brutal leg kicks. Rakic hopped on with some ground and pound and body shots, but Smith quickly reversed and looked to get the back. Rakic reversed, however, and ended up on top after a scramble. Rakic ended the round on top after landing some hard ground and pound from guard. However, Smith did a good job of minimizing damage.
Smith tried to close the distance quickly to start the round but ended up eating a big combination to start. Smith landed a hard right hand that snapped Rakic’s head back and Smith got in on a takedown attempt, however, he ended up getting thrown down by Rakic and Rakic ended up on top. Rakic was heavy on top, and Smith really couldn’t get up or even go for a submission. Rakic spent most of the round raining down short elbows and shot and leaning on Smith, giving him no chance to breathe. Rakic ended the lopsided round on top after dominating the grappling.
Rakic opened up the third round looking for a finish, landing shots to the body and head. Smith desperately tried to clinch but once again ended up on bottom. Rakic landed some hard shots and then moved to the back of Smith. Smith’s corner was losing their minds but Smith was visibly beaten and tired by this point. Rakic landed some hard knees to the body and legs of Smith, and Smith would end up going back to guard up against the fence. Herb Dean kept calling for Rakic to do more work, but Rakic was content to land small blows to stay on the ground. In the final seconds, Rakic got up and did a victory lap around the octagon, celebrating his win and his coronation as one of the top light heavyweights on the planet.
Aleksandar Rakic def. Anthony Smith by Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)