Jacksonville, FL — Light heavyweight prospect Jimmy Crute (12-1) has the fight he asked for at UFC 261.
On Saturday, kicking off the main card live on PPV, Australia’s Crute will go up against former title challenger Anthony Smith. “This is the fight I asked for. Even before I got the Johnny Walker fight [which fell through earlier this year], I asked the matchmakers for Anthony Smith,” Crute said during the UFC 261 media day this week, speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press. “It’s a big step, but it’s a small step in the scheme of things.”
For Crute, the reason for pursuing a fight with Smith seems to be about availability as much as opportunity. “I feel like a lot of those top guys don’t want to fight an up-and-comer,” Crute stated this week. “Me and Anthony had a back-and-forth on social media that was very respectful. To me, that showed that he was willing to fight an up-and-comer like myself. It was the highest ranked guy I thought would fight me, and the biggest challenge of a person that I thought would fight me.”
A win over Smith would be a key moment in Crute’s career. “It’s definitely going to be a breakthrough moment, one of many I hope.” Crute agreed, before adding that he’s not thinking of that moment just yet. “I’m here for business, and that business only,” he continued, describing his vision of the fight as “a mauling, until I put him away.”
Crute has been holding onto the prospect label for a while. Still just 25, he acknowledged that “there’s a lot of high hopes for me. I’m very aware of that. But I’m not thinking about that. I’m thinking about Anthony Smith.”
The main card billing is also telling, believes the light heavyweight. “It is exciting for me,” said Crute, who believes it’s a strategic placement. “I feel like they put us there because they know it’s going to be a good opener. They know it’s going to get the crowd hyped for the rest of the main card.”
Smith hit a rough patch in the last couple of years, before bouncing back against Devin Clark in the fall. Losses to Aleksandar Rakic and in particular, Glover Teixeira, were devastating. There’s plenty of tape to watch, plenty of film to model a game plan after. Crute, however, has left that to his coach. “He just feeds me the information. I watched it a few times, but I’m not Glover Teixeira, I’m not Aleksandar Rakic, I’m Jimmy Crute. I’ve just got to mold my game plan into my strengths, and then capitalize on little openings I see from him, but more importantly, the things I’m good at.”
Watch the full UFC 261 media day scrum with Jimmy Crute above. The event takes place this Saturday, April 24 at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. The main card airs live on PPV.