Anthony Smith easily submitted Devin Clark in the main even of the shorthanded UFC on ESPN 18.
The former lightweight title challenger snapped his two-match losing skid, maintaining his high rate of finishes when winning. This was his 13th submission, and along with 18 KO victories, he has 31 stoppage triumphs of his 34.
Smith recently suffered two nasty defeats against Aleksandar Rakic and Glover Teixeira. In both of them, the Lionheart had been inferior and suffered a lot of damage. His bloodbath against Teixeira upset the entire MMA community, and the bout with Rakic saw him helpless throughout the majority of the time.
“I’ve had a tough, tough year, and I just really wanted to cap it off with a win,” Smith said. “If you just kind of look over Twitter or look over Instagram, there’s a lot of people counting me out, [saying] that I can’t do it anymore. … That’s not the case. I want it more than ever.”
Smith endured Clark’s surprising attack at the very beginning of the match. The underdog tried to stun his opponent, but that didn’t work well, and in no time, he suffered a takedown. Clark was on top shortly, before Smith shifted into a higher gear, overpowering his rival and submitting him with a triangle choke at 2:34 of the round. His win looked just too easy, and it indicated that the Lionheart isn’t done yet despite all doubts.
It needs to be said that Clark isn’t some high-profile name in the division. He was coming off a two-win streak, beating Dequan Townsend and Alonzo Menifield, but against stronger rivals, he didn’t show anything notable. Aleksandar Rakic TKOd him in the first round, and Jan Blachowicz routed the 30-year old in the second round via submission.
Smith earned the Performance of the Night bonus and praises from the UFC president Dana White. White stated following the fight that he appreciates Smith’s willingness to accept the bout even though he was in a tough position, risking to extend his crisis. According to White, the majority of all the other fighters would walk away from this offer.
“You’ll see in this business a lot guys try to hold their spots and not fight anybody,” he said. “That ain’t the way to do it. What Smith did tonight, that’s the way to do it. … People respect that. People love guys who want to fight.”
This attitude will no doubt earn Smith another big-time fight. At the moment, he has sevens straight main event bouts, and even though this one against Clark wasn’t planned, it counts as well. White’s words are suggesting that the organization will reward the Lionheart with another one. Who would be his rival is still unknown, but according to various sources, it should be a top-ten name.
Devin Clark won’t get a notable rival, as tonight’s event proved that he still doesn’t have the quality for challenging the big dogs. He needs to seriously upgrade the overall quality in order to do the same.
The UFC on ESPN 18 was supposed to have the fight between Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis as the headliner, but the Razor’s COVID-19 test came back positive, and the bout had to be canceled. There isn’t any news on the future of that match, as the UFC still didn’t share any updates about the possible reschedule.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.