A light heavyweight battle that could potentially put the winner in title contention opened up the UFC 277 main card on Saturday.
The match-up saw the surging Magomed Ankalaev paired up with former title challenger Anthony Smith, who was undergoing something of a career resurgence after a rough spell that dogged him following his initial title bid against Jon Jones.
Smith’s momentum would come crashing to a halt on Saturday, however, in tragic fashion.
In the opening minute, the pair traded leg kicks several times, with Ankalaev later going to the body, and checking some of “Lionheart’s” attacks. Smith would briefly catch a kick with about two minutes left in the round, but Ankalaev quickly pulled his leg free. Much of the round, however, was spent circling and puzzling out distance and timing, with little outside the kicks and single strikes thrown. With about 90 seconds to go, Ankalaev punched his way in, finishing off the attack with a high kick that was blocked. In the final minute, Smith launched a heavy overhand right, and would later go off-balance and fall to his back, not that Ankalaev had any intention of joining him on the mat.
Between rounds, Smith informed his corner of issues with his ankle. Despite that, Smith came out swinging in the second, then drove Ankalaev into the fence. But going to the ground, it was Anskalaev taking the back, landing some big shots on Smith as he was on his knees, covering up. The ref had seen enough, waving it off, after which Smith could be heard saying he had broken his leg — potentially on one of the earlier leg kicks.
A NEW LHW CONTENDER HAS EMERGED!
— UFC (@ufc) July 31, 2022
“Who do you think broke it? He hit me!” Magomed Ankalaev exclaimed when informed of Smith’s injury. He then proceeded to question why he wasn’t fighting for gold. “How many more fights do I have to win before I can start fighting for the championship?”
Update, 1:45AM ET — Per UFC President Dana White at the UFC 277 post-fight press conference, Smith’s leg is not fractured.
Official Result: Magomed Ankalaev def. Anthony Smith by TKO, Round 2, 3:09