Anthony Smith Admits Surprise at Khalil Rountree’s Speed: Fighting Him on Short Notice was an Uphill Battle

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Anthony Smith was fully aware that facing Khalil Rountree on short notice wasn’t ideal.

Smith (37-19 MMA, 12-9 UFC) replaced Azamat Murzakanov on two weeks’ notice against Rountree (13-5 MMA, 9-5 UFC) in the UFC Fight Night 233 co-main event. He was stopped by TKO less than a minute into Round 3.

“Lionheart” took a risk fighting a dangerous, lower-ranked opponent on short notice, but he knew that going in.

“I knew I was in an uphill battle,” Smith said on the “Believe You Me” podcast. “I knew the position I put myself in was not going to benefit me. I knew that I would kind of put myself behind the gun, and I was fine with that. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into, and I knew what I was up against. I had quite a bit of weight to cut. That was the bigger issue.”

Other than the weight cut, Smith explains that he had issues seeing the left hand in practice, which ended up being a problem for him in the fight.

“He was just way faster than I had anticipated,” Smith said. “I knew he was going to be fast. It was shocking how fast he is, how he goes from 0-100 so fast. I struggled with the speed in the fight, and I didn’t really have any other options.

“I wasn’t seeing the left hand. He was faster than I was, and he was faster than I prepared for. Some of that is I wasn’t in fight shape. I was seeing things, but my body just wasn’t reacting fast enough because I haven’t been in camp, and that’s no excuse. That’s my fault. I put myself in that position. I knew it was a possibility.”

Although Smith was on a two-fight winning streak prior to the loss, he admits self-doubt started creeping in after getting stopped by Rountree. However, the former title challenger has no intentions of walking away.

“I still want to fight,” Smith said. “I’m not going anywhere. It’s probably the worst loss I’ve ever taken. If I had more time, or I was in better shape, or I had a whole training camp, or a lot of things are different, I think the whole thing looks different. I don’t think I aged overnight. I think I put myself in a tough spot.”

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