Holding their second event in five days, the UFC will have a fight night on Wednesday, May 13, with a headlining bout of light heavyweights Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has become the starting point for every story written and told, Smith lost the opportunity to headline in his hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska back in April, but he stuck it out and despite several changes in the schedule, the fight is on.
Throughout his career, Smith has been no stranger to facing and then overcoming adversity and this year has been no different. After recovering from a pretty serious hand surgery in which he was willing to amputate his finger to keep fighting, Smith was booked to face Teixeira in Nebraska on April 25, but then the UFC put events on hold following their March 14 event in Brazil.
As he waited for the next move by the promotion, Smith experienced a moment that not a single person, professional MMA fighter or not, wants to experience and he had to protect his family and his home from a home intruder. The shocking news led one of Smith’s former opponents, champion Jon Jones, to take a shot at him after realizing he and his family were safe, igniting more fire for Smith’s return.
Smith said no normal human is able to put up the fight his intruder did, but Anthony Smith is no normal person himself.
After one stint in the UFC, Smith was released and then worked his way back up until ultimately landing back with the promotion in the middleweight division, and after a loss to Thiago Santos, “Lionheart” made the decision to jump up to light heavyweight.
Starting off his run in light heavyweight, Smith made work of opponents Rashad Evans, Shogun Rua, and Volkan Oezdemir, and was rewarded with a title shot opportunity against Jones. While ultimately the fight did not go his way against Jones, there was an opportunity for Smith to win the title by accepting a DQ from an illegal strike, but that’s not how Smith has ever overcome adversity by taking the easy way out.
Now after surgery, postponements, and a scary home invasion, Smith returns to the Octagon in a division that holds opportunities for those who take them. Yes, there are calls for a rematch with Dominick Reyes and Jones, as well as top contender Jan Blachowicz, but creating your destiny is part of the story of Anthony Smith.
He continues to remain the same person, despite overcoming adversity and continuing to press forward, he even hosted his weekly Sirius XM radio show, the night before his fight in Florida showing that it’s business as usual, no matter what the surrounding circumstances are.
📽️ "There's a lot of 'ifs' that I have to make sure of," @lionheartasmith breaks down his fight vs. Glover Teixeira and discusses their encounter at weigh-ins. 👊@RJcliffordMMA pic.twitter.com/bCoDQFSjEY
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) May 13, 2020
Maybe it’s because his coach Marc Montoya of Factory X has instilled a mindset of forgetting the name of the opponent and viewing them as problems that need to be solved, rather than a person with a backstory or needing more motivation to fight. Anthony Smith has been a problem solver in every step of his career and life as he works his way back to a title.
With other challenges in front of him to face Jones, Smith is not only focused on the task at hand, but getting back to his rightful place in the division and avenging losses like the one he suffered to Santos before moving up to the light heavyweight division.
The UFC’s return has not come without criticism, but it has also come with hope, and so does the story and career of Anthony Smith. When he meets Glover Teixeira in the main event of UFC Jacksonville, not only will he return from plenty of adversity, but he’ll be looking to send a message of hope, certainty, and determination that not only applies to him, but to everyone who will watch his fight.
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews, BJPenn.com, and TheScrap.Co while also hosting his “On The Mic” podcast and works as an Associate Producer on Sirius XM’s Fight Nation channel.
With a special passion for interviewing and talking to some of the very best around the fight game, you can read or listen to Mike’s work across his multiple outlets.
Follow me on Twitter: @MP2310