Anthony “Lionheart” Smith has the makings of a superstar that you never heard of. Even more, Smith has the talent, the character, and the results to believe he could be a UFC champion in 2019 if all goes according to plan. When Smith steps into the Octagon against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC Fight Night 138, he’ll do so in what is likely a title eliminator in the light heavyweight division.
Moving up from light heavyweight from middleweight has been one of the biggest blessings for Smith’s career as he’s taken out former champions “Suga” Rashad Evans and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and he’s done so in quick and decisive fashion.
142 seconds has been all it’s taken for Smith since entering the light heavyweight division and he now finds himself on the verge of a shot at the light heavyweight title if he can get a victory over Oezdemir. His opponent shares a similar rise inside the division as Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir was rewarded with a title fight against champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 220, after he made quick work of his previous opponents in 2017. Now with a chance to get back in the title picture, Oezdemir meets the very dangerous Smith who will look to continue his first-round finish streak inside the light heavyweight division.
The quick finishes make for nice graphics in the promotional videos and fun talking points when previewing this fight, but the reality is, you shouldn’t blind when “Lionheart” and “No Time” step into the Octagon. Outside of the fact that both fighters have risen in the division due to their quick wins, both of them are incredibly dangerous inside the Octagon.
Having been through plenty of battles and wars in his lengthy career, Smith is a legitimate MMA veteran, and now that he’s in a division that benefits his physical well-being, he’s showing his full potential. A physically and mentally healthier fighter is without a doubt a major factor going into a big fight, but the opportunity to fight one of the two very best fighters in the division is another driving factor.
While doing press during fight week leading up to his fight against Oezdemir, Smith has said he plans to “demolish” the former title challenger and following the fact, many will be talking about how “No Time” didn’t belong at the top of the division.
Rising to the top of a division in need of fresh faces, Anthony Smith has arrived in the light heavyweight division prepared to make a statement: he’s ready for a title opportunity. There will be no denying Smith a title shot if he gets the win over Oezdemir and while he’s said many will be talking about the devastating fashion he plans to finish his opponent, those tuning in shouldn’t blink, or they might miss Smith cementing himself as the next light heavyweight title challenger.