When Anthony Smith agreed to fight “Shogun” Rua this Sunday at UFC Fight Night 133, the former middleweight wasn’t thinking about making a title shot call out, if he won. But, following recent comments from the 205 champ Daniel Cormier, that has changed…
Smith agreed to step in on short notice to face Rua, as the latter’s initial opponent, Volkan Oezdemir, has been moved to an August 4th fight with Alexander Gustafsson. Smith was tapped for the big opportunity, after he quickly took out former light-heavyweight champ Rashad Evans, at UFC 225 last month.
In the meantime, there’s been a lot of talk recently about whether Cormier will defend the light-heavyweight crown before he retires next year, and if so, who will the two-champ face. Since Gustafsson is currently ranked #1, the consensus is that if he gets by Oezdemir, he should be next. But, Cormier isn’t too keen on that bout. In fact, the decorated fighter has said that Gustafsson doesn’t move a lot of pay-per-views, and Cormier also expressed an interest in fighting the legend Rua, (while citing his three fight winning streak).
Well, Smith recently spoke with MMA Junkie.com Radio, and while discussing “DC’s” comments about facing Rua, “Lionheart” said this (quote via MMA Junkie):
“If he thinks ‘Shogun’ is the next guy, and I beat him, then I think rightfully, he gave me the opportunity to put my hand up,” Smith said. “I think that he did that for me, and I don’t even know if he realizes that.
“He isn’t excited about the Gustafsson fight, whether it’s a money thing or a new matchup. I think I’m a fresh face, and that’s an exciting matchup for the fans, me versus ‘DC.’ But I haven’t even thought about that right now.”
It’s an interesting point, and there’s no question that if Smith goes out and storms through Rua, he’s going to have some serious buzz. But, if Gustafssson does get by Oezdemir, it would seem like Cormier – Gustafsson II is the fight to make. There’s also Ilir Latifi in the mix, who is currently ranked #4, and he hasn’t fought for the title yet.
Now, might Cormier call for Smith to get a title shot if he wins on Sunday? It’s possible. But, don’t be surprised if Cormier doesn’t defend the 205 belt, unless he decides to push back his retirement plans for next March.