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UFC 303 loss ‘put nail in the coffin’ on getting title

Anthony Smith finds himself in a quandary after UFC 303.

Smith (38-20 MMA, 13-10 UFC) lost a unanimous decision to short-notice replacement Roman Dolidze (13-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) less than two weeks ago at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “Lionheart” originally stepped in on short notice to replace Jamahal Hill against Carlos Ulberg, but Ulberg wound up withdrawing. In stepped Dolidze, who defeated Smith.

“There was almost a moment where I was kind of like, ‘What the f*ck am I doing here?’” Smith said on his “Believe You Me” podcast. “Not so much me, but why am I even in this position right now? I came here to fill in for Jamahal in a matchup that I really liked and that I was very familiar with because of training with Jamahal and helping him out.

“So, it didn’t feel new, but then all of a sudden it’s Dolidze, who I got a lot of respect for. I’ve been very high on Dolidze for a long time. It’s a stylistic nightmare for me. It’s shorter, stocky grappler with good striking. Those guys have always been my kryptonite, those double-threat guys.”

Smith has never backed down from a challenge in his quest to regain another light heavyweight title shot. But after alternating wins and losses in the past couple of years, he thinks that window has likely closed.

“Career trajectory-wise, I don’t know. That might’ve put the nail in the coffin on getting a title,” Smith said.

Smith vows to no longer take short-notice fights. He doesn’t plan on retiring but isn’t sure how to proceed if the title is no longer in play.

“I love fighting,” Smith said. “The problem I’m running into mentally is if I’m not doing it to win a title, am I costing myself more than it’s worth? That’s the crossroads that I’m at. It’s time away from my family, and that’s getting harder and harder.”

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