VictoryFighter.com: Please give the fans a little background on yourself. Where did you grow up? How did you get into MMA?
Anthony Smith: “I grew up in Nebraska City. I played football and wrestled my whole life. I was quite the troubled youth and dropped out of high school when I was 17. I saw a flyer for an amateur fight night at a Subway and figured why not? I could fight and not get into trouble…the rest is history.”
VictoryFighter.com: Your nickname is “Lionheart”, although it would seem pretty self-explanatory…sometimes there is a story behind the moniker. How did you earn the nickname Lionheart and who gave it to you?
Anthony Smith: “During the first part of my amateur career, I was pretty know for getting my ass kicked in fights and pulling out slick finishes and pulling the win off…kind of like the movie (Lionheart). An announcer just announced me as that one time, because he had seen me fight numerous times. It stuck and that’s been it ever since.”
VictoryFighter.com: You are fresh off of a run in Strike Force and UFC, until a knee injury sidelined you. How is the knee doing and what did you do during the rehabilitation process to stay focused on the sport?
Anthony Smith: “My knee is doing great. I actually did everything possible to not stay focused on the sport. I was a little soured with the sport as a whole. This sport can tear your life apart if you let it and I had let it a little. Two fights, two serious injuries resulting in two losses. All of my eggs were in one basket. I worked for seven years to get to the UFC and it wasn’t that cool. I considered retiring heavily. After some time I realized that I had taken the fun out of it, because I put so much pressure on myself. I HAD to win and it ruined it. I work full time now and train full time. I don’t HAVE to win…I just want to. It’s been a long time since I just wanted to win that bad. That makes me much more dangerous.”
VictoryFighter.com: In your fight against Roger Gracie, many fans believe you were controlling that fight until a shot to the eye threw you off your game. Can you give us a rundown of how that played out?
Anthony Smith: “The breakdown of the Gracie fight? That’s simple. I was beating his Goddamn ass until he threw a jab with his fingers poking into my eyeball and did nerve damage and blinded me. That guy is a bitch and knew he was well onto his way to getting finished. There’s a photographer that told us after the fight he had a picture of his (Roger Gracie) finger two knuckles deep in my eye. I wish I could find that guy.”
VictoryFighter.com: You had the opportunity to fight in Brazil for UFC. Please share with us your thoughts on that experience.
Anthony Smith: “Brazil was a trip…I’ll tell you that. It was definitely a little bit of a culture shock. It’s a beautiful place and most people were great. Although my manager got robbed on the beach by some teenagers while we were walking. It was nuts.”
VictoryFighter.com: Where do you feel you are sitting as far as a return to the UFC? Do you need one impressive victory, two, etc.? At this point, what do you feel it will take to make that return?
Anthony Smith: “You know, it’s kinda hard to tell. With the weight class change and if I can finish Neer and beat him convincingly…then one, maybe two big wins. Truthfully I don’t really care either way. Whether they call or not, I’m going to continue to fight regardless, until it isn’t fun anymore.”
VictoryFighter.com: You are known for being a “fight anyone, anytime” type of fighter; throughout your extensive fight history…who would you say was your toughest opponent?
Anthony Smith: “They’re all tough. Look at my record. It is far from padded. Whether they’re known names or not, almost all of them with the exception of a couple were and still are extremely respectable guys. I can’t pick just one…they’re all tough.”
VictoryFighter.com: Most fighters face adversity at some point in their lives; can you tell us about a point in time where you have battled or overcome something to better yourself?
Anthony Smith: “My whole career had been overcoming adversity it seems. The chips never seem to fall my way, but it is what it is. I just put my head down and push forward. It’s a miracle from where I was to come to where I am now. So long as I keep pushing even a little further then you’ll always be ahead. That’s life in general. As long as you’re ten percent better today than you were yesterday, that’s all that matters.”
VictoryFighter.com: Have you had any fights in which you lost a decision and feel that you won? Please share.
Anthony Smith: “I’ve never been to a decision. Don’t plan on starting now.”
VictoryFighter.com: Most fighters supplement their income with side-jobs, etc. What type of jobs have you had to help make money throughout your career?
Anthony Smith: “I work full time for one of my managers at DC Concrete. I’m very fortunate to be able to work full time and have the flexibility to train for myself as well. DC Concrete baby! Paving the planet and guaranteed to stay hard! Shameless plug, but I don’t care.”
VictoryFighter.com: You come from a small town in Nebraska. What would be your advice to a young amateur fighter in a similar situation?
Anthony Smith: “You got to do something different if you want different results. Get to a big gym with a room full of people better than you. You can only get so far in a make shift basement gym.”
VictoryFighter.com: You are one half of the Co-Main Event for VFC 41. Some say this may be the biggest war inside a Victory cage to date. How do you see this fight playing out?
Anthony Smith: “I see this fight going exactly as everyone else. There’s no secret here. A battle of attrition. Whoever can implement their game plan will win. Can Josh get on the inside and dirty box and play the clinch game and maybe get a takedown and hope to hold me there? Can I keep him off me and use my reach? Can he stop my submission game? Can he handle the power, speed and size? Guess there is only one way to find out right? That’s how it will go.”
VictoryFighter.com: Do you have anyone that you would like to thank for helping support you throughout your career i.e. family, friends, sponsors, etc.?
Anthony Smith: “I want to thank my coaches, teammates, DC management for always taking such good care of me. My family for always supporting me no matter what. My fans for being the best in the business and lastly my daughter and girlfriend…when shit gets hard and I’m tired and don’t feel like training or want to slow down and take a break, that sweet voice and beautiful smile of that little girl pushes me through…when nothing else will. I have to do everything I can to make her as proud as I can, even if she doesn’t understand yet. Maybe someday she will read this so…daddy loves you baby…more than you’ll ever understand. This is an always has been for you.”
VictoryFighter.com: Anthony, thank you for your time. This fight is guaranteed action and is worth the price of admission on its own. Anthony has found the passion once again and is fueled to win. For all the latest news, updates and interviews, follow us on Facebook at @VictoryFighter and Twitter at @VictoryFighting.