UFC Fight Night results, highlights: Aleksandar Rakic grinds down Anthony Smith for clear decision win
It wasn't the war many envisioned, but Rakic left no doubt in a dominant win over Smith
What was, on paper, a fantastic pairing of action fighters turned into a dominant grappling performance as Aleksandar Rakic controlled Anthony Smith for a wide decision win in the main event of UFC Fight Night from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas.
It was the striking that set things up for Rakic, as he opened the first round throwing crushing leg kicks. As Smith tried to fire back with his own kicks to the leg, he was caught by two more Rakic shots that dropped him to the canvas. From that point early in Round 1, Rakic's true gameplan emerged as he used brute strength to hold Smith on the ground and work a patient ground-and-pound game that left Smith without any answer.
That scenario would play out over and over in the second and third rounds, with Smith put on his back in both rounds and held there while Rakic did enough to keep the fight from being stood up. Rakic ultimately had ground control for 12:16 of the 15 total minutes in the three-round main event.
"I showed the world I'm not only a dangerous striker, I can wrestle and dominate on the ground," Rakic said following his victory.
The fight had significant implications in the light heavyweight division. After years of Jon Jones being the undisputed best 205-pound fighter on the planet -- aside from times when his personal issues out of the cage left him stripped of the championship -- Jones decided to vacate the title and move to heavyweight.
Now, anyone with a significant victory or run of wins could be positioned for a title shot. That's exactly what was on Rakic's mind after his win.
"You know what's next," Rakic said. "The belt is next. Reyes vs. Blachowicz winner, it's me. That's the next one. That is next for Aleksandar Rakic."
Rakic finished the fight having outlanded Smith 136 to 20 and only ate one truly meaningful punch from Smith, a left hook that Rakic ate well before taking control of the fight again.
With the victory, Rakic improved to 13-1 in his career, the lone loss a controversial split decision against Volkan Oezdemir last December.
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UFC Fight Night card and results
- Aleksandar Rakic def. Anthony Smith via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
- Neil Magny def. Robbie Lawler via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Alexa Grasso def. Ji Yeon Kim via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Ricardo Lamas def. Billy Algeo via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
Official result: Aleksandar Rakic def. Anthony Smith via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
As has been the case all fight, Rakic happy to sit and dominate from top position. With 10 seconds, Rakic backs off, stands up and poses with his hands up as the final bell rings. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Rakic (30-27 Rakic)
Smith just can't manage to get up, Rakic is too strong and is not going to let it happen.
Smith gets to turtle position and is trying to stand up, but Rakic is staying tight to him, keeping him from being able to get up.
Referee Herb Dean calls for work, so Rakic throws a few punches to keep the fight from getting stood up.
Round 3: Rakic with a big leg kick and then he bombs with head kicks and punches and Smith was buzzed badly. Smith grabs on and tries for a takedown but Rakic defends -- using a bit of a cage grab -- and Smith slides off to the floor and Rakic is right back on top.
The round ends with Rakic continuing to grind on the ground and Smith is in trouble with only one round left. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Rakic (20-18 Rakic)
Smith tries to create space to get back to his feet but ends up eating a few short punches as Rakic holds on.
Rakic walks Smith back to the cage. Rakic still content to hold on, and Smith tries to find an armbar but it's just not there.
Rakic not doing a ton, but enough to keep the fight from getting stood back up.
Rakic on top landing punches to Smith's body, seemingly content to hold the position and land some punches. Smith tried to throw up a triangle choke, but Rakic ended up right back in full guard.
Round 2: Rakic with an immediate leg kick and Smith clinches and lands a right, but Rakic backs up and lands another kick. Big shot lands for Smith, but moments later he is taken right back down.
Smith lands a good punch off his back, but Rakic responds with some big right hands and a few short lefts as the round comes to a close. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Rakic
Rakic holding on and not doing a ton with the position as Smith is seated against the cage.
Rakic shoves Smith forward and now is on top inside the guard. Smith is trying to control Rakic's arm to minimize incoming offense.
Rakic tosses Smith off his back and is holding a front headlock.
Smith trying to recover and work back to his feet while Rakic has position, but Smith now works and takes the back standing.
Smith goes down after another huge leg kick, his leg buckled and he went to the canvas.
Rakic lands some more heavy leg kicks and Smith lands one in return, but Rakic's are incredibly solid so far.
Round 1: Rakic opens with some heavy leg kicks as Smith stalks and lands one of his own.