While currently riding a three-fight winning streak in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, Anthony Smith may have a change in his upcoming plans. After reeling off consecutive wins over Devin Clark, Jimmy Crute, and most recently, Ryan Spann, Smith had been scheduled to meet Aleksandar Rakic on December 18 but revealed that fight is off due to injury.
Making an appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Smith revealed that he is out of his upcoming rematch against Rakic, but has already been offered a new potential opponent. After revealing he had arthroscopic knee surgery following his win over Spann in September, Smith was expected to miss four to five weeks but then there was a staph infection on the injured knee, and now Smith will be sidelined until early 2022.
In his interview with Helwani, Anthony Smith said he believes he return around February or March of next year and then revealed his next opponent could be the now-former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) November 1, 2021
“I would guess February, March, maybe April.” Smith said, “I’m kind of liking this Jan Blachowicz fight. They [UFC] brought it to me, that night. He’s ready, he wants to fight, he wants to fight again, he wants to fight soon.”
While he notes Blachowicz would like to return soon, Smith would continue on to say that as long as his infection clears up, he wouldn’t mind returning in February to face the former champion.
“I’m not crazy injured, I’m just dealing with a little staph infection. As long as we can get the infection cleared up, I don’t think February is out of the question. I love that fight, I like that guy. I want the Rakic fight, I want that back, but I don’t think he wants to wait which is fine, if he wants to go and fight someone else that’s fine. But yeah, I like the Jan Blachowicz fight.”
It’s possible that Smith could return to face Blachowicz in February 2022 if all parties involved want to make it happen, but “Lionheart” also made it clear that he would still like to rematch Rakic. Before his current three-fight winning streak, the former light heavyweight title challenger suffered a two-fight skid, with losses coming to Rakic and newly-crowned champion Glover Teixeira. With a winning streak behind him and vengeance on his mind, Smith is setting himself up for another run at the title.
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