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Morning Report: Anthony Smith sad UFC 303 loss ‘probably puts the nail in the coffin’ for title hopes

Anthony Smith was one of the several fighters called in to help save the day at UFC 303 last month.

The International Fight Week 2024 event lineup lost two of its three original former UFC champion combatants when Conor McGregor and Jamahal Hill went down with injuries in the main and co-main events. Therefore, the promotion was forced to improvise on a couple of weeks’ notice, leading to makeshift light heavyweight matchups, an impromptu title fight rematch, and an entirely new co-main event.

Oh, by the way, that third champion who remained on the card from the jump was Andrei Arlovski. Of course, it was old reliable. The absolute legend

In the end, Smith entered the mix to replace Hill before Hill’s replacement opponent Carlos Ulberg needed replacing. Yeah, it really was a mess. Middleweight contender Roman Dolidze filled the void and came out victorious with a unanimous decision over “Lionheart.” As a result, the one-time light heavyweight title challenger is going through a new post-fight experience.

“This is a tough one,” Smith told MMA on SiriusXM’s Fight Nation. “It’s the first time I’ve ever been sad. I’ve lost fights and been angry, disappointed, embarrassed, that real fiery anger, you know? Just mad about it. I’ve never been sad before until now. Never.”

Smith, 35, is being a bit harsh on himself considering the circumstances of his fight and what happened with the event in general. I didn’t even allude to the fight night chaos that ensued with the co-main event.

UFC 303 was cursed as soon as the calendar turned to June. For Smith though, he saw a prime opportunity to capitalize on maybe, just maybe, sneaking his way into a longshot title tilt with the champion Alex Pereira if they both won their fights. Pereira did his thing, knocking out Jiri Prochazka for a second time, but Smith saw his Dolidze clash as a must-win for that goal he’s longed to achieve.

“I’m out here doing one of the hardest f*cking things there is to do in sports on no notice, laying it out on the f*cking line just daring to be great, and trying to do something f*cking hard,” Smith said. “I don’t know. You fail and it f*cking sucks and you gotta come back to your family.

“If we’re just being honest here, that probably puts the nail in the coffin for my opportunity to ever win a title. Probably. There’s chances, obviously. There’s the [Michael] Bisping story and the [Dustin] Poirier resurgence, Glover [Teixeira], whatever. Some of that stuff’s all kind of circumstantial. It just happened to work out for them, but like, that’s probably it.”

Smith turned back an undefeated 11-0 prospect, Vitor Petrino, in his previous fight to earn his 38th career win (38-20), showing he can still compete. Although the Nebraskan believes his title chances have been dashed for better or worse, he noted how he isn’t ready to retire. In the constantly fluctuating 205-pound division, Smith sees some fun remaining matchups before he turns his broadcast analyst role into a full-time gig.

“All the things I’ve sacrificed, relationships that I lost, the time with my kids, the parties, all those experiences to like, the child in me,” Smith said. “The dude that’s feeling sorry for himself thinks, ‘Oh, it’s all for nothing.’ That’s not really the case. I need to be an adult about it.

“Financially, that was a home run. I’m just gonna be honest. On that front, I’m doing fine, but that’s not what was always important to me. I didn’t get into this game to make money. That’s not what it was ever about. So, that as a reward isn’t as fulfilling as some people think it would be.”

Lightweights. Dustin Poirier takes aim at Michael Chandler: ‘You’re not one of us

Expectations. Michael Page: Ian Machado Garry gets killed by Leon Edwards, Shavkat Rakhmonov

Trouble. FanDuel fined, forced to pay more than $230K in wagers for bets taken on pre-recorded PFL fights

Dispute. Alex Pereira and Artem Vakhitov argue over past fights, Vakhitov offers ‘to settle the issue in the UFC octagon

Rematch. Rampage Jackson teases boxing match with Rashad Evans for ONE FC

Patience. Sean Strickland: Robert Whittakercan get it after I get my belt back

Contention. Jailton Almeida urges Cyril Gane to take ‘title eliminator’ fight at UFC Paris: ‘No way this fight would go the distance

The MMA Hour.

UFC Denver media day.

Full fight.

No Bets Barred. MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew and Conner Burks discuss does Rose Namajunas still have it or can Tracy Cortez pull off the upset at UFC Denver.

Go to Twitter, use the #MorningReport hashtag, or find one of my tweets with it, and drop me a jam you’re currently really into. I’ll pick the best one alongside my daily choice and give you a shoutout! You can also share in the comments below — those are just harder to sift through sometimes!


No ragrets.


The one.


Evan Elder (8-2) vs. Darrius Flowers (12-7-1); UFC Denver, July 13

Chepe Mariscal (16-6) vs. Damon Jackson (23-6-1); UFC Vegas 95, Aug. 10

Javid Basharat (14-1, 1 NC) vs. Chris Gutierrez (20-6-2); UFC Abu Dhabi, Aug. 3

Raufeon Stots (20-2) vs. Marcos Breno (15-3); Bellator San Diego, Sept. 7

Douglas Lima (33-11) vs. Aaron Jeffery (14-5); Bellator San Diego, Sept. 8

Jaqueline Amorim (8-1) vs. Vanessa Demopoulos (11-5); UFC Vegas 97, Sept. 7

Victor Altamirano (12-4) vs. Daniel Bárez (16-6); UFC Paris, Sept. 28

Fares Ziam (15-4) vs. Matt Frevola (11-4-1); UFC Paris, Sept. 28

It was a bit of a longshot for Smith’s title hopes as is, depending on how badly Alex Pereira would have pushed for it. Regardless, crazier things can happen in this weird UFC light heavyweight division.

Thanks for reading!


Who wins this weekend?

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    Rose Namajunas

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