Anthony Smith rips light heavyweights for declining to fight him at UFC 303

LAS VEGAS – Anthony Smith took aim at the light heavyweight division for not stepping up to fight him at UFC 303.

After Carlos Ulberg was forced out due to injury, Smith (38-19 MMA, 13-9 UFC) drew middleweight Roman Dolidze (12-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) on Saturday’s main card (pay-per-view, ESPN, ESPN+) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The former title challenger is surprised that Dolidze, who competed at 185 pounds for his past seven fights, is the one stepping up to take the fight.

“As far as impact goes, I think him moving up says a lot about my division,” Smith told MMA Junkie and other reporters at a pre-fight news conference Wednesday. “So, if you guys want to do your jobs, go ask every available light heavyweight why there’s a middleweight fighting this fight. They’re going to make up a bunch of sh*t, but I think you guys can read between the lines.

“Every single one of them said no. So, I’m the veteran, I’m the gatekeeper, like whatever those guys say. ‘Well, why is Anthony getting paid so much and why does he get this opportunity?’ Because I’m willing to do this sh*t that you guys won’t do. Me fighting a middleweight on Saturday proves that to everybody. I think all those guys just got exposed.”

Nonetheless, Smith is looking forward to fighting Dolidze.

“It’s hard to not want to fight a guy like Dolidze, and I mean that with the utmost respect,” Smith said. “He’s an absolute dog. He brings the fight; you don’t have to convince him to fight. He’s got a great skillset, I think his style mends well with mine. It meshes well with mine where we can – I think we’re going to have a goddamn barnburner.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 303.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie