A post-fight confrontation between light heavyweight stars Anthony Smith and Ryan Spann at UFC Vegas 37 was a surprising scene in the octagon Saturday.
Generally speaking, Smith, who earned a first-round submission win in the Fight Night card’s main event, is one of the most respectful, magnanimous fighters around. But after forcing the tap, Smith loomed over his vanquished foe and screamed at him, with the scene eventually seeing security flooding the cage to separate the two.
During Saturday’s post-fight press conference, Smith (36-16) admitted that the disrespect he felt from Spann prior to the fight “really pissed me off.”
“Maybe this is going to sound arrogant or pretentious, but I have earned the respect from my peers. I’ve put a lot of work into this game. I’ve sacrificed my entire adult live to be here,” Smith said in explanation of just why Spann got under his skin. “To be in the position I’m sitting in right now. That’s time with my kids. That’s friendships. That’s life opportunities. I could have been a goddamn surgeon by now. I’ve put a lifetime of work into this, and most of my peers respect me. That’s all I ask.”
“You don’t have to like me. We don’t have to get along. We don’t have to be friends,” he continued. “You can think you’re going to kick my ass and sometimes you might, but I think just respecting my journey is the only thing I ever expect from anybody. And he didn’t. Saying he doesn’t care what I’ve done, he doesn’t care about the main events, he doesn’t care who I’ve beaten, he doesn’t care about the bonuses. I bet he cares now.”
Former UFC double-champ Daniel Cormier sided with Smith in the controversy, taking to social media to say that “I have no problem with the way Anthony Smith just acted,” and added that “when you talk all that sh*t and you get beat the way Ryan Spann just got beat we don’t need to shake hands and hug.”
I have no problem with the way Anthony Smith just acted when you talk all that shit and you get beat the way Ryan Spann just got beat we don’t need to shake hands and hug Anthony is an OG and do not play. Really was an easy night for @lionheartasmith great job!!!#UFCVegas37
— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) September 19, 2021
“Think about that,” Smith said in response. “Daniel Cormier. Hall of Famer, future Hall of Famer, multiple time world champion. If that guy can at least have respect for my hustle and the things that I’ve done in the sport— Daniel would probably kick my ass, but at least he can respect it. That’s all I ask. That’s all I ask for.”
All that having been said, Smith, who now sits on a three-fight win streak, stated that he was moving on from the incident. “It’s nothing personal at this point. I feel like I squashed it. I did what I had to do, I think we dealt with it in the cage afterwards. His coach and him came over, they said what they said, I said what I said, and I’ll move on. I don’t hold any ill-will towards them, I’m moving on, and I’ll see you later.”