UFC Fight Night: Smith vs Rakic will take place at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday, August 30 at 11am AEST.
Here are our best bets and prediction for the UFC Light Heavyweight bout between Anthony “Lionheart” Smith and Aleksandar Rakic.
Anthony Smith vs Aleksandar Rakic
Previously a Middleweight division fighter, Smith made the change to Light Heavyweight in early 2018 following a TKO loss to Thiago Santos. He then won his next three fights in impressive style with Smith beating former Light Heavyweight champion Rashad Evans in just 53 seconds via knockout. Following that victory, Smith would KO another former champion, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua which only took 89 seconds to accomplish.
Smith would quickly cement himself as a top contender in the Light Heavyweight division with a submission victory over former title contender Volkan Oezdemir who had previously challenged Daniel Cormier for the belt at UFC 220. Smith was challenged by Oezdemir, especially in the second round, before forcing him to tap to a rear-naked choke.
Lionheart would earn a title shot against Jon Jones at UFC 235 in March 2019. Despite Jones having two points deducted in the fight for an illegal knee, Jones would retain his title via unanimous decision. Following that loss, Smith would defeat Alexander Gustafsson via submission. Back in May, Smith’s momentum was stopped when he was knocked out in the fifth round by Glover Teixeira.
Aleksandar Rakic has ambitions of climbing the Light Heavyweight rankings and the heavy-hitting Austrian won his first four fights with the UFC to take his record to 12-1. He received a Performance of the Night bonus with a 42-second knockout of Jimi Manuwa. His latest fight saw him compete against Volkan Oezdemir; some vicious leg kicks form Oezdemir saw him victorious via split decision over Rakic.
Another loss on Sunday will see Rakic’s stocks in the division plummet. However, we do not think he will suffer back-to-back losses for the first time in his MMA career.
Smith has competed at a higher level than Rakic over the past few years, but the beating at the hands of Teixeira last time saw Smith lose a few teeth as well as having his nose and orbital bone broken by the veteran. That sort of punishment can take a toll on fighters and there is a chance that Smith is not ready to fight against someone that can dish out punishment like Rakic can do.
Looking at the bout, Smith has stated that Rakic is a ‘one-trick pony’ which isn’t necessarily untrue with Smith boasting a more rounded style. The key for Rakic is not allowing Smith to back him up against the Octagon fence, smother him and potentially get the fight to the mat. Rakic has the striking skills to work over Smith and also has the power to back that up by hurting Smith in this bout. Lionheart will eventually wilt under the pressure striking from Rakic.