Righteous indignation only enhanced Anthony Smith’s lethality.
Apparently feeling slighted by skeptical observers and a younger generation of Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweights, “Lionheart” took out his frustration on Ryan Spann and submitted the Fortis MMA standout with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their UFC Fight Night 192 main event on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Smith brought it to a close 3:47 into Round 1.
Spann’s chin could not withstand the intense heat with which it was met. Smith decked the onetime Legacy Fighting Alliance champion with a left hook, moved into top position and isolated an arm before ultimately returning to his feet. He then dazed Spann with another left hook, dropped him where he stood with a right cross and transitioned to the back. Smith hooked his legs in place, flattened out the compromised “Superman” and cinched the choke for the finish.
Afterward, an agitated Smith set his sights on a rematch with Aleksandar Rakic—a man who defeated him by unanimous decision a little more than a year ago. Rakic, who has since outpointed Thiago Santos at UFC 259 in March, responded through social media with a willingness to oblige the 52-figth veteran’s request, date and site to be determined.
In addition to Smith-Rakic 2, here are four other matches that ought to be made following UFC Fight Night 192:
Ion Cutelaba vs. Paul Craig: Cutelaba completed eight takedowns, paired them with ferocious ground-and-pound and piled up nearly nine minutes of control time, as he took a unanimous decision from Devin Clark in the three-round co-main event at 205 pounds. All three cageside judges sided with the Moldovan sambo practitioner: 30-26, 29-26 and 29-27. The victory was Cutelaba’s first since Sept. 28, 2019 and put the brakes on a three-fight winless streak for “The Hulk,” whose off-the-charts physical skills continue to intrigue both matchmakers and the masses. Craig last competed at UFC 263, where he put away Jamahal Hill with elbows and punches in the first round of their June 12 pairing.
Arman Tsarukyan vs. Dan Hooker-Nasrat Haqparast winner: The substance may actually exceed the hype with Tsarukyan. A true blue-chip prospect in the lightweight division, he cut down former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion Christos Giagos with punches in the first round of their featured attraction at 155 pounds. Giagos succumbed to blows 2:09 into Round 1. The American Top Team-trained Tsarukyan, 24, has rattled off four consecutive victories since he lost a unanimous decision to Islam Makhachev in his April 2019 promotional debut. Hooker and Haqparast will lock horns at UFC 266 on Sept. 25.
Nathan Maness vs. Felipe Dias Colares-Chris Gutierrez winner: Maness survived a harrowing firefight with Tony Gravely and stopped the former CES MMA and King of the Cage champion with punches in the second round of their bantamweight showcase. Gravely bowed out 2:10 into Round 2. Maness staged a remarkable comeback, as he was saved by the bell at the end of the first round after an encounter with a crushing right hook left him dazed and confused. The 30-year-old Kentucky native improved to 14-1 overall and now owns a perfect 3-0 mark inside the Octagon. Colares and Gutierrez will collide at UFC Fight Night 194 on Oct. 9.
Joaquin Buckley vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan: Buckley cemented his reputation as a one of the middleweight division’s most exciting performers with a come-from-behind knockout of Antonio Arroyo in the third round of their confrontation at 185 pounds. “New Mansa” buried Arroyo with punches 2:26 into Round 3, distancing himself from a disappointing loss to Alessio Di Chirico at UFC on ABC 1 in January. Though Buckley appears to have a clear ceiling, he figures to supply the highlight reels with viable material for the foreseeable future. Alhassan last appeared at UFC on ESPN 30, where he struck down Di Chirico with a head kick in just 17 seconds on Aug. 28.