Anthony Smith has claimed that he has it on good authority that his upcoming fight with Magomed Ankalaev at UFC 277 on July 30th will establish who gets the next light-heavyweight title shot against newly crowned champion Jiri Prochazka.
“I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but Dana White has already come out and said that Magomed Ankalaev vs. me is a No. 1 contender fight,” Smith said on ESPN+ after the fight. “The winner gets a title shot. Dana is the boss. That’s what I think Ankalaev and I both thought was probably going to happen. Jan and Rakic just fought. Rakic was injured. Jan was probably losing that fight up until that injury. Essentially they both lost. That leaves me and Ankalaev. We’ve both been at the top of the division for a long time. I think that’s what’s next.”
A former title contender back in 2019, Smith is currently on a three-fight winning streak, having picked up submission wins over Devin Clark and Ryan Spann along with a TKO finish over Jimmy Crute.
That only leaves him ranked No.5 in the division though, and given that prior to his current run he’d also picked up a TKO loss to the man who has just been dethroned as champion, Glover Teixeira, he’ll no doubt be somewhat nervous that the Brazilian star has already began calling for a title rematch against Prochazka.
That will be equally troubling news for the No.4 ranked Ankalaev, who certainly has compiled a contender-worthy run at 205lbs with eight wins in a row over the past three-and-a-half years, during which time he’s defeated the likes of Thiago Santos, Volkan Oezdemir, Nikita Krylov and Ion Cutelaba (twice).
At this stage Dana White hasn’t spoken out to indicate whether he still sees Smith vs. Ankalaev as a title eliminator, or if the thought of an immediate rematch for Saturday night’s instant-classic Prochazka vs. Teixeira fight now appeals to him more.