Anthony Smith may be a seasoned veteran of the cage, but that doesn’t mean that he has lost any sense of risk-taking as he steps into the Octagon.
Light heavyweight contender Smith agreed to step up and take on dangerous knockout artist Khalil Rountree on just two weeks’ notice. The pair will face off in Las Vegas on Saturday night at UFC Vegas 83 and, chatting to the press during a media day session at the UFC Apex, “Lionheart” admitted that he loves to put himself in difficult situations, with this being the latest example.
“I like doing crazy s**t!” Smith said.
“Taking a fight with Khalil Rountree on like 10 days’ notice is pretty crazy.”
Smith vs. Rountree forms the co-main event matchup, and the 35-year-old, 55-fight veteran said that the bout could have happened on even shorter notice.
“They wanted me to fight him in Austin, but there were like six days or something like that. It was really short notice,” he explained.
“I said I would take the fight, but I couldn’t make 205 that fast. So, I asked for a catchweight.
“Everyone was good with the catchweight, but Dana isn’t a huge fan of catchweights. So he asked if I would make 205 this weekend, so he gave me an extra weekend to make the weight class. I said ‘Yeah.'”
It means the bout will be contested as a standard light heavyweight matchup, and it represents an opportunity for both men to deliver a big win to round off 2023 and position themselves for a shot at someone further up the rankings in 2024.
“The rankings are for people on Twitter and you guys,” Smith said.
“We don’t really pay attention to that too much. To be honest, the UFC doesn’t really pay that much attention to it, either.
“Rankings are like a marketing machine. It’s really easy to make people care about something more when there are numbers next to their names.”
Regardless of his disinterest in the ranking system, Smith said he knows that an impressive win over Rountree on short notice will do big things for his stock as he looks to push himself back towards the 205-pound elite.
“The UFC understands how tough of a position I put myself in and how hard it is to come in on short notice and beat a guy like Khalil,” he said.
“And it’s even harder to look good doing it. So if you come in and you put yourself in these precarious positions and do hard things, I think you get rewarded for that.”