Johnny Walker is out of his bout with Jimmy Crute thanks to a torn pec muscle — but the stakes just got even higher for Australia’s Crute.
On Tuesday, news of Walker’s injury was first reported by MMA Fighting. Crute himself acknowledged that Walker had dropped out of the fight — but teased that an even bigger opponent was stepping in to take the Brazilian’s place.
Turns out, that opponent is former light heavyweight title challenger Anthony Smith. Brett Okamoto of ESPN was first to report that Smith will step in for Crute.
Although the match-up with Walker was originally scheduled for UFC 260 in March, Smith vs. Crute has a different time frame set. The pair, per Okamoto’s initial report, will face off on April 24.
Crute (12-1), still just 24 years young, joined the UFC in 2018 off a win on Dana White’s Contender Series. He subsequently posted a 4-1 record inside the octagon, with a lone loss to Misha Cirkunov the only blemish on his record. Since that defeat, Crute has won two straight, with both victories earning him Performance of the Night bonuses. The Australian scored a knockout of Modestas Bukauskas in his most recent outing, in October. Prior to that, he submitted Michal Oleksiejczuk via kimura in February 2020.
Big things were expected from Crute this year as a result, and he’ll start 2021 off with a chance to prove it against “Lionheart,” as Anthony Smith (34-16) is otherwise known. The 32-year old fighting out of Omaha, Nebraska had a rocky start to 2021, enduring a home invasion incident and two consecutive losses, to Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic. Smith bounced back in November, however, with a Performance of the Night submission of Devin Clark.
The UFC’s April 24 card does not have an official date or location set. The promotion has yet to confirm Smith’s involvement in the fight, or Walker’s injury.