Former title challenger Anthony Smith stepped into the cage as the fifth-ranked light heavyweight contender for his fight with seventh-ranked Johnny Walker at UFC Charlotte.
The winner of this fight between talented finishers would be in pole position to have a number one contender fight in their next bout, but getting out of that octagon with a win would be no easy task for either man, as oddsmakers had the fight at a perfect pick’em.
The fight began with somewhat of a feeling out process, with each man avoiding the first big offerings of the other and feinting more than they actually struck. Walker wobbled Smith just before two minutes had passed but Anthony bit down and swung back to scare Walker off from pressing his advantage too much. They began to open up more after that and Johnny Walker really began to target the legs of Smith, beating them up. A kick which hit Smith’s cup paused the action for a minute but they got right back to it after that.
Anthony Smith rushed forward, got caught, and dropped to his knees. However he was able to stay present enough to dive for the legs of his foe, take him down, and settle in top half-guard. Johnny Walker stayed on his back until the last five seconds when he executed a reversal and ended up on top as the bell sounded.
Thirty seconds into round two Anthony Smith executed a beautiful pull counter but Walker, who has had a suspect chin in the past, ate it without issue. The pace was slow for the most part but Walker did well to keep chipping away with leg kicks. Hardly anything happened for much of the round. Smith landed one more big right hand, Walker tried a cartwheel kick that did not do much, and Anthony Smith appeared to accuse Johnny of talking bad about his family, but the round came to a close with no clear victor.
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The start of round three had some more offensive offerings but for the most part the fighters avoided the bigger shots of their foe. Smith got eye poked but got back to action quickly. Walker stumbled backwards from a Smith punch just before two minutes had passed but again he recovered well. Johnny’s legs were even more prolific this round as he continued with his usual leg kick attack but also introduced side kicks. Halfway through the round Smith started to limp after one particularly hard leg kick. A stabbing side kick to the knee appeared to bother Smith, who dropped down for a leg immediately but failed to get the takedown.
Smith then got backed up to the fence by a flurry and dropped down for a leg again, where Walker slammed punches into the clearly hurt Smith, who could barely stand when Walker let him back up. The final minute of the round consisted of just Johnny Walker walking down Anthony Smith and touching him up with straight punches and kicks. The final ten seconds saw a flying knee from Walker that hurt Anthony badly but Walker let him off the hook, a constant theme in the third round of the fight, and the fight went the distance.
When Bruce Buffer read the scorecards it seemed likely that Johnny Walker had done enough by hurting Smith in rounds one and three. That sentiment was mirrored by the judges, with two of them giving the Brazilian all three rounds and, of course, the victory.
Official Result: Johnny Walker def. Anthony Smith by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)