Shortly after a decision loss to Aleksandar Rakic in the UFC Fight Night 175 main event — his second straight lopsided defeat in the Octagon — last August, Anthony Smith was contemplating a return to 185 pounds.
Since then, “Lionheart” has rattled off three consecutive light heavyweight triumphs to re-establish his place in the division. The most recent of those came on Saturday night in a quick submission triumph over Ryan Spann in the UFC Fight Night 192 headliner, after which Smith called for a rematch with Rakic.
“That’s what I wanted. That’s what I asked for,” Smith said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “That’s the fight I’ve been talking about. It’s nothing personal. Me and Rakic have had nothing but positive exchanges with each other both before and after the fight. It’s purely competitive. I want his spot. He took mine, I want to take it back.”
Shortly after Smith’s callout, Rakic seemingly accepted, tagging UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard in a Twitter post while writing, “I’m free in December.”
I'm free in December @Mickmaynard2— Aleksandar Rakic (@rakic_ufc) September 19, 2021
According to Smith, the loss came while he was in a bad mental space following a fifth-round TKO loss at the hands of Glover Teixeira in May 2020. With wins over Spann, Jimmy Crute and Devin Clark under his belt, the former 205-pound title challenger believes he is in a better place to avenge that loss to Rakic. He also says that Rakic is the most difficult matchup for him among the top light heavyweight contenders.
“No disrespect – I think Dominick Reyes is an easier fight, but that doesn’t get me closer to the title,” Smith said. “I need what’s going to get me closest to the title fight. I could hang around and wait for the loser of the title fight, but I don’t want to wait. I think for me stylistically – not saying for everyone – but for me, Rakic is probably the toughest fight out of those [top] five guys.”