Anthony Smith defeated Devin Clark in an unexpected main event of the UFC on ESPN 18 this Saturday night. The Lionheart posted an easy submission win in the first round.
It was the first win for the former UFC lightweight challenger following two losses, his second in the past five fights. He would routinely set up a position for a triangle choke and execute it well at 2:34 of the opening sequence.
Clark immediately attacked the Lionheart, but after that, the more experienced fighter scored a takedown to calm down his opponent.
With the two battling to establish control on the ground, Clark would come on top for a brief moment, but Smith smoothly got away from that situation, setting up a trap for the rival while doing the same. There was no problem for him to rout Clark, who had no chances of escaping the Lionheart’s grip. This ending provided the winner the Performance of the Night bonus.
Smith (34-16 MMA, 9-6 UFC) lost to Aleksandar Rakic and Glover Teixeira recently, and this win is a breath of fresh air for the American who was obviously struggling following his loss to Jon Jones in a title fight at the UFC 235.
He did defeat Gustafsson but suffered a violent loss to Teixeira and was dominated by Rakic some three months ago.
Clark (12-5 MMA, 6-5 UFC) had two triumphs in a row, and this was his test, for taking a step forward in the organization and securing himself more attractive and better rivals. He would beat Alonzo Menifield and Dequan Townsend previously, both after unanimous decisions, but it seems that he still needs to work a lot before challenging the big guys.
The bout was supposed to be the co-main event of the night, but following Curtis Blaydes‘ positive COVID-19 test, the entire situation changed. Blaydes’ match with Derrick Lewis, which was the main event, had to be canceled, and the UFC had no other option but to replace it with Smith vs. Clark.
It is still unclear what would be the next step for Smith, and who could be his next rival. Before the fight, the American was not in the top 10 UFC lightweight rankings list, but he might come back with this win. On the other side, Clark will have to work hard to secure his place in the organization, and regardless of his next opponent, if he doesn’t win, his future in the UFC could be endangered.