Anthony Smith: I'm going to be a UFC champ, or be first to die trying

When former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping declared he had the style to beat Anderson Silva, a great many MMA observers had a chuckle. Anthony Smith paid attention.

Now that Smith (31-13 MMA, 7-3 UFC) is in a fight where he’s being written off, the brash Brit’s predictions – and subsequent upset of the future Hall of Famer – come to mind as a powerful example of self-belief. And maybe, a preview of what’s ahead.

“(Bisping) felt like he had the right style and he was the right person to do it, and that’s how I feel,” Smith told MMAjunkie Radio on Wednesday.

On March 2 at UFC 235, Smith will take on light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC), who recently reclaimed the undisputed title he’s had to win back on two occasions due to brushes with the law and MMA regulators. Many fans expected the UFC to make a trilogy fight against Jones’ nemesis Daniel Cormier and scoffed when Smith was installed as the next contender for the pay-per-view event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Jones opened as a 13-1 favorite to defend the belt, declaring expectations for Smith out of the gate.

Smith said he’s targeted Jones since June, when he picked up the first of three upset wins with a first-round knockout of ex-champ Rashad Evans. When he rallied from early trouble to submit onetime title challenger Volkan Oezdemir, he was certain of his future.

“This isn’t an accident that I ended up here, and I’m not surprised,” Smith said. “I know that everyone’s pretending like I’m being gifted something, and that it was just up in the air and no one knew who it was going to be. I knew I was going to fight Jon Jones as soon as I got done beating Oezdemir.”

A ligament injury in his wrist briefly left Smith in arm cast after his Oezdemir win. But by the time he stepped on set as a FOX analyst for Jones’ win over Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232, he was almost ready to go. And it just so happened that an improvisation gone wrong led to a tense exchance with the new champ that set a fight in motion.

Smith has been on a mission to hold a UFC belt long before Jones took over the 205-pound division. A win would change his career, bring financial security, and establish a legacy. But most importantly, it would bring a title.

Smith isn’t asking fans to believe him when he declares his style is the one that can beat Jones. He does that for himself.

“I’m going to be a world champion, or I’m going to be the first guy to die in the octagon trying,” he said. “I believe that, and I’m OK with that. I made peace with whatever I’ve got to lose, or whatever I’ve got to sacrifice to get there.”

For more on UFC 235, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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