Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith is known for his willingness to carry on through adversity, despite any odds that might be stacked against him. He truly lives up to his nickname every time he steps into the cage. Against Glover Teixeira, many fans were horrified to see Smith’s teeth literally being knocked out. However, Smith was not fazed and never considered quitting the fight.
This leaves Smith in a position where he is better qualified than most to weigh in on the disqualification of Petr Yan at UFC 259. The MMA community have been split following the disqualification. With some believing that Aljamain Sterling overacted in order to get the win, whilst others believe Yan was completely in the wrong.
Speaking on Sirius XM, Smith weighed in on the debate. He stated the following:
“First of all, I see all the Aljamain hate, I see all the bs. I hate it. I only hate it for one reason. It’s because I got a s**t ton of it when I continued to go on. Those exact same people are the same ones shitting on Aljo for not. So that’s frustrating.
I don’t expect the same people to do some things that I do. I don’t expect people to live their life the way I live mine. It doesn’t matter how hurt I was. If I was unconscious I would’ve woke up and would’ve stood up and said I was fine to continue fighting because that’s who I am. I don’t expect people to do that. I put myself in terrible positions all the time.”
Whilst Smith stayed relatively neutral in the debate, what he did have a strong opinion about was the refereeing. Smith discussed Mark Smith’s hesitance
“I am so sick of these refs wanting to pass the buck, and punt every single problem they have. You don’t need help making the decision. Especially from a fighter who was just fouled to their brain.”
“Second, if we’re tasking these referees with the responsibility to know when fighters are hurt. To know when they can’t continue anymore, to stop the fight, in a legal fight-ending sequence, why does the legality of that shot matter. Because if Aljamain’s knee was one inch off of the mat, when he took that knee, Mark Smith would have stepped in and stopped that fight immediately.
Wouldn’t have even been any followup shots. Why does that change because that blow was illegal. If it was legal we would have stopped that fight and given Aljo a chance. Why are we gonna force him to continue because it was illegal.”
🔊 "You don't need help making a decision especially from a fighter that was just fouled to their brain." 🚨@lionheartasmith reacts to the way the illegal knee was handled in Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling at #UFC259 👀@RJcliffordMMA pic.twitter.com/6k1RWUC4wP
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) March 10, 2021
Smith may well have a point in that the fight likely would have been stopped had the strike been legal. However, that was not the case. So instead we are left with the UFC’s first champion who claimed his belt via opponent disqualification.
Sterling and Yan will likely play it back soon enough. But the UFC’s refereeing standards may need some level of scrutiny in the not so distant future,