There’s one thing we can be reasonably sure about when it comes to Anthony Smith: The man isn’t lacking confidence.
Smith (17-9 MMA, 0-0 UFC) meets Antonio Braga Neto (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on Saturday at UFC on FUEL TV 10 in Brazil, and “Lionheart” recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio) that he knows he belongs in the UFC after his run in Strikeforce.
On Thursday, with his debut against Neto just two days away, he upped the ante by telling MMAjunkie.com Radio he’s seen his opponent this week in Brazil. There’s little doubt in Smith’s mind that he already has the upper hand.
“I can already tell – I can see it in his face that he’s not sure,” Smith said from Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil, where he fights Neto at Paulo Sarasate Arena on a Facebook stream ahead of the main card on FUEL TV. “When I see him in the lobby and we’re walking around, the fight’s not on my mind. I’m confident and I know what I’m going to do. But you can tell on his face he’s not sure he can beat me. He’s fighting two fights – he’s fighting with himself, and he’s fighting me, too. He’ll look at me out of the corner of his eye and look down.”
So Smith is confident he has a mental edge right out of the gate, even though he’s the underdog in the fight and he’s facing a Brazilian on a Brazilian’s home turf.
But he also is confident that before he can get his hand raised, he’s going to be in for a good little scrap – and the three cageside judges? They might as well wait back in the dressing room.
“They don’t need to worry about coming till the second fight, that’s for sure,” Smith said. “There’s no way this is going the distance, I promise. It’s going to be fireworks and I guarantee we’re going to come across the cage fast and we’re going to see who’s tougher.”
Smith went 2-2 for Strikeforce, including a second-round submission loss to Roger Gracie at the promotion’s finale in January. Still, the UFC took him on.
That the UFC was confident in his skill set should say something. But Smith still has fans who don’t believe he’s up to snuff. And therein lies the challenge of trying to push the negativity to the side, which he usually is pretty good at.
“I try not to (pay attention to the fans),” he said. “I get a lot of good press, but I get a lot of negative reactions from the fans. I’m not sure why that is, but I try to not pay attention to it too much.”
So far in Brazil, despite being an American about to fight a home-country fighter, he said he’s received a relatively warm welcome. That may not be the same on fight night for his walk to the cage.
But if things go the way Smith plans, the Brazilian crowd will be won over by his performance and heart.
“I assumed I was going to have to some people not on my side just because I’m fighting a Brazilian,” he said. “But I’ve always heard Brazilian fans are just MMA fans, and I knew it wasn’t going to take much for me to win them over, anyway.
“I feel like I may get booed on my way in, but I guarantee I’m going to get cheered on my way out.”
For the latest on UFC on FUEL TV 10, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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