Anthony Smith on Johnny Walker before UFC on ABC 4: ‘If you give enough rope, he’ll hang himself’
Anthony Smith is aware of the danger Johnny Walker brings to Saturday’s UFC on ABC 4 co-headliner. However, he expects a clean path to victory so long as he doesn’t “run into anything stupid.”
“He’s super athletic,” Smith said at Wednesday’s UFC on ABC 4 media day. “He’s explosive. He’s creative. Even given some of the results not going his way, he’s still relatively fearless when he goes in there. That makes a dangerous guy to deal with. Honestly, you’ve just got to not run into anything stupid, is what it really comes down to, just being fundamentally sound. You can’t really lose focus in there with a guy like that. If I navigate the traffic fine, I think I’ll be OK.”
Smith (36-17 MMA, 11-7 UFC) is set to clash with Walker (20-7 MMA, 6-4 UFC) in a key light heavyweight bout, which takes place at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C., and airs on ABC following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.
After suffering a broken leg in a TKO loss to Magomedov Ankalaev at UFC 277 in July, former UFC title challenger Smith will return to the octagon this weekend. He was originally supposed to headline the card, but the fight got downgraded to co-main event and three rounds, still without clear explanation.
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Smith didn’t provide much additional insight as to the change but made it clear he’s not especially bothered by it.
“I’ve been preparing for a five-round fight since like February,” Smith said. “It was most of the training camp we were preparing for five. It doesn’t really make a difference to me either way. They say I’m not the main event anymore, but my media schedule says otherwise. It honestly didn’t make any difference to me. The money’s the same. The paychecks the same. The opponent’s the same. It’s just two less rounds.”
If Smith gets the win over Walker, he said he thinks he’ll be in good position among 205-pound contenders. He’s not expecting a title shot, because as champion Jamahal Hill recently told MMA Junkie, he’s targeting his first title defense against Jiri Prochazka this summer.
Smith said a fight with former middleweight champ Alex Pereira could be of interest, but there are multiple options.
Before any of that, though, he must take care of Walker. The Brazilian has finished his opponent in 19 of his 20 career victories, with all seven of his UFC wins coming inside the first round. The threat is obvious, but Smith is confident he can work his game against that of Walker and emerge with his hand raised.”
“It’s pretty cliche, but he’s got one way to win,” Smith said. “I can kind of win wherever. If the fight is short, it’s fine. If it’s long, it’s fine. If it’s on the ground, it’s fine. If it stays striking, I don’t really care about that either. Johnny is a unique athlete as far as his physicality.
“If you give enough rope, he’ll hang himself. He’ll walk onto something. He’ll run into something. He’s one of those guys, if you just let him drive himself, he’ll run into something.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ABC 4.