[autotag]Anthony Smith[/autotag] is glad cooler heads prevailed with [autotag]Ryan Spann[/autotag] in the aftermath of the UFC Fight Night 192 main event.
Following Smith’s (35-16 MMA, 11-6 UFC) first-round submission win over Spann (19-7 MMA, 5-2 UFC) on Saturday’s card at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, he got very heated and yelled at his downed opponent. Referee Herb Dean had to restrain Smith, and once Spann got back to his feet and started to walk toward him, security flooded the cage and made sure nothing escalated.
The incident ultimately boiled down to a lot of yelling, but Smith’s emotion stemmed from everything that led into the fight. He was bothered by how dismissive Spann was in regard to his skillset and past accomplishments, and “Lionheart” said he took it personally.
Although Smith didn’t vocalize the depth of feelings going into fight night, it all came out afterward.
“I was holding a lot of that sh*t back – it really pissed me off,” Smith told MMA Junkie and other media at the UFC Fight Night 192 post-event press conference. “(I had) a lot, a lot (of fire). Maybe this is going to sound arrogant or pretentious, but I have earned the respect from my peers. I put a lot of work into this game. I’ve sacrificed my entire adult life to be in this position I’m sitting in right now. That’s time with my kids, that’s friendships, that’s life opportunities. I could’ve been a goddamn surgeon by now. I put a lifetime of work into this. Most of my peers respect it. That’s all I ask.
“You don’t have to like me. We don’t have to get along. We don’t have to be friends. You can think you’re going to kick my ass, and sometimes you might. I just think respecting my journey is the only thing I expect from anybody. He didn’t. Saying he doesn’t care about what I’ve done, he doesn’t care about the main events, he doesn’t care who I’ve beaten, he doesn’t care about the bonuses – I bet he cares now.”
Although Smith has no regrets about his actions, he said he’s glad it didn’t linger beyond what happened in the octagon. He said he had a brief conversation with Spann and coach Sayif Saud from Fortis MMA, and though he didn’t share the contents of that conversation, he said everything is now in the past.
“It’s nothing personal at this point,” Smith said. “I feel like I squashed it. I did what I had to do and I think we dealt with it in the cage afterwards. Him and his coach came over and they said what they said and I said what I said and we move on. I don’t hold any ill will towards them. I’m moving on, and see you later.
“I’m glad we did it right away. I think I would’ve felt bad afterwards. A lot of that stuff – there’s adrenaline, there’s a lot of testosterone flowing in there, there’s a lot of emotions. It was a big fight for both of us. They were upset. Let’s not pretend Ryan Spann wasn’t going to rub that sh*t in my face if he beat me. I wasn’t even trying to throw it in his face. That was just my initial reaction. The second he tapped and the ref pulled me off, my initial reaction was, ‘Where was that ass-whooping you promised me?’ That was my initial thought that was running through my head since he said it.”
Smith thinks his reaction partially came from the shift in mindset he’s endured while he’s gone on what’s currently a three-fight winning streak consisting of all first-round finishes. He said he clings onto certain things as fuel and motivation for himself to perform at his best, and that may have partially been the deal here as he latched into Spann’s pre-fight comments.
“Maybe I’m on some Michael Jordan sh*t where I’m just making stuff up in my head and making a mountain out of a mole hill just because that’s what I need to do,” Smith said. “But the fact is it genuinely bothered me and that was my emotional reaction immediately. I’m glad we got it over with. … I think people are more surprised that it’s me. I typically don’t get crazy emotional like that. But maybe I’m just caring less.”