Anthony Smith looks to get back to winning ways against Devin Clark, who knows he can enter the top 10 with a win in his first UFC main event. Stepping up from co-main to five-round main event one day before the bout, can Clark make it three wins from three in 2020, or will Smith’s main event experience prove too much?
Anthony Smith (33-16) first featured in the UFC as a middleweight in June 2013, losing by first round submission due to a kneebar against Antônio Braga Neto in Neto’s homeland of Brazil and subsequently being dropped by the promotion. Smith then went on to become middleweight champion in Cage Fury FC and Victory FC before returning to the UFC in 2016.
“Lionheart” continued at 185lbs and amassed a 4-3 record in the UFC before making the move to light heavyweight in 2018. He started with a bang, beating former champion Rashad Evans at UFC 225 by KO after just 53 seconds, and then he beat another former champion, Maurício Rua, with another KO in round one which earned Smith a Performance of the Night (POTN) bonus.
Smith’s performances at 205lbs earned him a title shot against Jon Jones at UFC 235 last year but he couldn’t assert any dominance in the bout, losing by unanimous decision despite Jones being deducted two points. Smith has now lost three of his last four including his last two – most recently a unanimous decision defeat in a one-sided bout against Aleksandar Rakić in August.
Now 8-6 in the UFC, Smith has seven finishes with five KO/TKO victories – in his whole career, only 2 of his 33 wins have come via the judges. This will be his seventh main event in a row and Smith will want to show he is still a dangerous contender in the division by dominating the exchanges and getting back to winning ways, utilizing his 4-inch height advantage over Clark.
Devin Clark (12-4) is the former Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) light heavyweight champion and has been in the UFC since 2016, joining as a 6-0 unbeaten fighter just after winning his RFA title. Like Smith, Clark made his UFC debut at 185lbs but has competed at 205lbs since.
Now 6-4 in the UFC, “Brown Bear” has claimed all of his victories in the promotion by unanimous decision but has suffered two round one KO/TKO and two second round submission defeats. A victory this weekend would see him win three UFC fights in a row for the first time in his career and likely move into the top ten in the divisional rankings.
Clark’s last fight was a unanimous decision win against Alonzo Menifield at UFC 250, and he has also had the experience of fighting against the current champion, Jan Błachowicz, in Błachowicz’s home country of Poland in October 2017, a fight Clark lost by second round submission.
Despite Clark not being ranked, not having fought in a UFC main event, and Smith sitting just outside the top five, I think this fight could go either way. Smith is more likely to go for a big knockout or try to secure a submission whereas Clark will probably attempt to secure takedowns, look to control, and cause damage from there in an attempt to make his first UFC main event a successful one.
Prediction: Clark by decision with a POTN.
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