Saturday, August 29th
UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakić
UFC APEX – Las Vegas, Nevada
Top ten light heavyweights collide in the main event this weekend as knockout artists Anthony Smith and Aleksandar Rakić look to bounce back from defeat. Both men know that a win this weekend puts them firmly in title contention.
Anthony Smith (33–15) 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 4–2 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 two of his last three including his most recent, a TKO defeat early in the fifth round against Glover Teixeira in May during which Smith sustained a lot of damage.
Now 8–4 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 sixth UFC main event in a row and he will be looking to put on a show after disappointment last time out.
Aleksandar Rakić (12–2) made his first appearance in the UFC as an 8–1 prospect in 2017, his only loss being inflicted on his professional debut back in 2011. The Austrian is now 4–1 in the UFC, his 12 fight win streak being ended by Volkan Oezdemir by split decision in Rakić’s last octagon appearance in December.
Rakić has a background in boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and kickboxing so it is to be expected that both men will want to keep the fight standing and look for another KO to bounce back from defeat. Rakić has ten career finishes with nine by KO/TKO, and eight of his stoppages have been in the very first round.
Unlike Smith’s experience against UFC champions and in main events, this weekend will be the first time that Rakić has fought in the USA and his maiden UFC main event. Beating a top five opponent will prove that his narrow defeat in his last appearance was just a blip.
This fight comes just weeks after Jon Jones vacated the light heavyweight title, which will now be up for grabs between Domincik Reyes and Jan Błachowicz. With top five contenders Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira also scheduled to fight within the next month a win for either competitor this weekend puts them right towards the top of the division and into title contention.
Prediction: Rakić by KO/TKO in a POTN.
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