Photo by Kieran Cleeves/PA Images via Getty Images
Following his stunning submission of Nikita Krylov at UFC London on Saturday, “Bearjew” called his shot, naming Smith as his desired opponent for a matchup that he hopes will happen in Glasgow, Scotland, in June.
It didn’t take long for Smith to respond.
Ankalaev, Craig…whoever. The answer is yes. Always yes. It’s not me that you have to convince. https://t.co/ZKVORcrUBt
— Anthony Smith (@lionheartasmith) March 19, 2022
“[Magomed] Ankalaev,” Craig… whoever,” Smith wrote on Twitter. “The answer is yes. Always yes. It’s not me that you have to convince.”
Smith is currently on a three-fight win streak, most recently defeating Ryan Spann by first-round submission at UFC Vegas 37 this past September. He is a one-time UFC light heavyweight title challenger.
One reason Craig called for the bout with Smith is that he’s extended his own unbeaten streak to six. He also already holds wins over a pair of contenders who have recently generated plenty of buzz, Jamahal Hill and Magomed Ankalaev.
Specifically, Craig would love to test the grappling of Smith, an owner of 14 career submission victories.
“Everybody in the top 10 has an outstanding jiu-jitsu game, and they have an outstanding striking game and wrestling game,” Craig said. “You need to be all-around to be in this game. You can’t have one thing unless you’re the ‘Bearjew.’ All you need is that Bearjew-jitsu, and if you’ve got that, then you can go to the top and you can be the champ.
“Do I think Anthony Smith’s got good jiu-jitsu? Yes. Is it better than mine? I don’t think so. He’s not as hungry as me, and he’s not putting himself in danger to get submissions. I hunt for submissions. And in that fight there was times where people must have thought, ‘That’s a rear-naked choke’ — right, it wasn’t a rear-naked choke — ‘That triangle’s nearly in, awww!’ That’s what I do. It’s like telling a story. If the story I tell is I wake up in the morning and I go through my day and I wake up and I go to bed, that’s not a very exciting story. What I do is this [motions rising and falling]. That’s the sport. The sport is about entertainment and I believe I entertain people when I step into that octagon.”
José Youngs contributed to this report from London.