In light of the recent news regarding Anthony “Lionheart” Smith’s home invasion, news stories quickly took off.
When Smith first told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani the horrendous story about the fight of his life with a home invader, you just knew it wouldn’t end there. Shortly after, Joe Rogan shared the story on his podcast. Media affiliates outside of sports news were reporting the incident. And, like clockwork, Jon Jones took to social media to insert his position on the situation. With the attention the news generated, it wasn’t long until the context of the story changed.
Quickly, the story changed from Smith defending his home and family to how Jones felt about it all. As if a break-in wasn’t news enough, Jones’ hot-take surely solidified it as newsworthy. The tide of this story quickly changed. It wasn’t Smith vs. home intruder anymore. It was Smith vs. Jones Twitter battle. Suddenly, anyone in MMA media looking for a quick 300-word write up had their topic. But did we need it? I know the entire sports world is on hiatus, but that was not the context of this story, and it never needed to be.
There appears to be a disconnect lately between traditional print media and today’s media. Throw social media into the mix and the grey area gets larger. So I decided to go right to the source: Anthony Smith. After all, who better to comment on his story than Smith who has also spent a significant amount of time providing running commentary for the UFC? Smith is one of a few active fighters who join Rogan and Jon Anik and the UFC team during fight cards.
“I know how this stuff works,” Smith stated.
“And what I didn’t want to happen was a bunch of untruths and misrepresentations of what happened. And then social media get ahold of it. And then the media pick up on that. And If it was going to get out and it was going to go viral, I wanted to be exactly what happened. I wanted it to be the truth and then have no way to spin it … You know, you can only fit so many characters in a tweet. So thats what I didn’t want. And with my lawyer and the UFC recommendations, like it’s best if it’s going to come out, then it needs to come out from the source,” he continued.
But social media did get a hold of it and what ensued tip-toes the line of journalism.
Jon Jones is an undeniably polarizing figure. He is going to weigh in when he wants. So where does social media actually become legitimate news? Surely not every tweet from Conor McGregor or Dana White or even Jon Jones deserves it’s own article.
“I guess I’m on both sides of it to be honest with you,” Smith insisted.
“And that doesn’t mean I like both sides. I don’t necessarily agree with both sides, but I’m not shocked at Jon Jones comments. This is how he is, right? There is nothing that he said that was shocking to me. I wasn’t blown away by it and I made my comment towards Jon and there is no rebuttable. I don’t have a rebuttal for Jon. I don’t have anything to say to him. If that is the direction you want to go, fine. But I’m not going down that road with you because Im a better person than that,” he continued.
Anthony Smith has indeed been on both sides of the media as both an analyst and a competitor. This probably explains why he sees both sides of the spectrum. He understands that he is constantly in the limelight and knows that, in this sport, the more times he is viewed the more his stock increases. So he certainly knows the duality of his circumstances. He can comprehend that his situation is going to be viewed in it’s entirety, which includes how someone not related to his most recent struggle is still going to obtain viewership. But it’s important to note that such actions may also carry consequences.
“I am a little bit surprised with this being the Jon vs. Anthony thing off of the tragedy that happened in my house,” Smith insisted.
“I don’t understand why that’s the story. But at the same time if you’re a media outlet that is trying to push viewers and you need clicks and you need likes and you need traffic, if you don’t do it, then someone else is going to. So it’s a dirty game. The media side of it is a dirty game. And again I’m not necessarily surprised that it went like that, but i don’t like it. But I also hold … a pretty good position in the sport right now so I’m in a position that i don’t have to do interviews with people. You know what I mean? I don’t have to give them content. And I’m also not going to change the way I do interviews. I’m just going to change who I do them with or I’m going to monitor who I do them with. It’s going to be with people that i trust and people that I know is going to put it out there exactly how I said it and leave it,” he finished.
Smith was originally set to face Glover Texiera at UFC Fight Night Lincoln. That fight has since been postponed. When Smith does step back in the Octagon, he will be back to the business of fighting.