Light heavyweight action is set for UFC 277 on July 30.
Surging contender Magomed Ankalaev (17-1) is set to take on former title challenger and current contender Anthony Smith (36-16) at the event, which is the UFC’s second Pay-Per-View card in the month of July.
Cageside Press confirmed news of the booking following an initial report by MMA Junkie. The match-up sees the #4 (Ankalaev) and #5 (Smith) ranked fighters in the 205 pound division face off, with serious title implications.
Russia’s Ankalaev has been almost perfect in the UFC thus far. Outside of a last-second submission loss to Paul Craig in Ankalaev’s debut, he’s defeated every opponent put in front of him. The 29-year old is now riding an eight-fight win streak, which includes victories over Ion Cutelaba, Nikita Krylov, and former title challengers Volkan Oezdemir and Thiago Santos, among others.
For his part, Anthony “Lionheart” Smith has turned things around over the past two years. After being soundly beaten in back-to-back fights against Aleksandar Rakic and the man who is now champion, Glover Teixeira, Smith has put away Devin Clark, Jimmy Crute, and Ryan Spann, stopping all three inside the distance.
The winner of Ankalaev vs. Smith figures to be well-positioned in the light heavyweight title hunt, though the winner of Jan Blachowicz vs. Aleksandar Rakic may have an inside track. The belt will be defended in June, when Teixeira faces Jiri Prochazka at UFC 275.
UFC 277, meanwhile, does not have a venue or location officially set. Only one other fight has been reported for the card thus far. That would be a heavyweight match-up between Derrick Lewis and Sergei Pavlovich.