Earlier this morning, it was reported that Johnny Walker had withdrawn from his scheduled UFC 260 bout against Jimmy Crute and that an unnamed replacement had been landed to take on Crute.
Well, that replacement has now been named, as ESPN’s Brett Okamoto has reported that former 205-pound title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith has agreed to step in and fight Crute. According to the report, the bout will occur on April 24 at a location that has not yet been determined.
After moving up to light heavyweight in 2018, the 32-year-old Smith strung together three-straight victories over former champions Rashad Evans and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Volka Oezdemir. That earned him a title shot against then-champion Jon Jones in 2019, but he came up short.
Since losing to Jones, “Lionheart” has gone 2-2, beating Alexander Gustafsson before suffering back-to-back defeats against Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic. Most recently, he got back to his winning ways with a much-needed submission victory over Devin Clark this past November.
Meanwhile, Crute is a 24-year-old Australian who has established himself as one of the brightest young names at 205 pounds. With a 12-1 overall record, “The Brute” earned a UFC contract with a first-round TKO victory over Chris Birchler on a 2018 edition of Dana White’s Contender Series.
Since then, he’s gone 4-1 in the UFC, earning stoppage victories over Paul Craig, Sam Alvey, Michal Oleksiejczuk, and Modestas Bukauskas. The only loss he had in that stretch came against Misha Cirkunov in 2020.
There’s no denying that Anthony Smith will represent the toughest test of Crute’s young career.
Long Island-based sports writer covering MMA, Boxing, and the New York Jets.