In spite of being an overwhelming favorite in the first defense of his newly regained Ultimate Fighting Championship title next month, Jon Jones insists he is not taking Anthony Smith lightly.
Jones, who said he wanted a quick turnaround after his win over Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 in December, got his wish, with the promotion offering him a fight against the surging Smith on March 2 at UFC 235.
Smith comes into the fight riding a three-fight winning streak with victories over two former UFC champions in Rashad Evans and Mauricio Rua and his latest win over Volkan Oezdemir in October. Despite those wins, “Lionheart” comes into the fight against Jones as a massive underdog, around +750 according to most oddsmakers.
“Bones” was asked during the UFC 235 press conference last Thursday night about his mindset coming into the fight as the overwhelming favorite and said there’s no chance he’ll be taking Smith lightly when they meet next month (transcript courtesy MMAJunkie.com):
“It’s flattering, but at the end of the day it’s a very dangerous position to be in,” Jones said. “When you are fighting a guy no one expects to win as the favorite you have to be smart enough and mature enough to stay at the drawing board, stay in practice, take your opponent very seriously. I take Anthony Smith extremely serious. He has 40 fights, double the fights I have. He’ll get my full, undivided attention.”