A “patient” Anthony Smith is ready to put on a show for the VFC Fans
April 13th, Anthony Smith will step back into the VFC cage for the first time in over two years. When he walks out, he hopes to have gold around his waist in the form of the Victory Fighting Championship middleweight belt.
There are always things going through a fighters' mind that motivate them to push themselves just a little harder. Those little nagging thoughts that get you to do one more hill sprint, or add another round of sparring in class. For Smith there is a few things that are pushing him to do well in this fight.
Anthony has been on a tear lately. He won six of his last seven fights, with only two of those victories making it to the second round. Anthony is obviously a "don't blink" kind of fighter. But for all the excitement he brings to a fight and the impressive string of victories, he doesn't have a win in the VFC in front of his hometown fans. This is something he plans on changing April 13th.
"I'm super exited to come back to Victory. I've been fighting all over the place for the last two-three years. I've never won in Victory as a pro. I'm excited to get this monkey off my back and get it over with."
Anthony's most recent fights have been with Strikeforce, who have allowed Anthony to come back and fight in front of his local fans. Not leaving with VFC gold could definitely change his contract. If Anthony is putting any pressure on himself to succeed, besides the normal pressure a fighter puts on himself, that would be where it's coming from.
"The pressure is more with Strikeforce, that's where the pressure is coming for me. Cause I know what's going to happen if I lose. That's the only place I have any pressure at all is I got to make sure that I perform and don't lose, because if I do that's really going to screw up my Strikeforce contract."
Not that he plans on losing. Anthony definitely plans on walking out of the cage with the VFC belt wrapped around his waist. The only difference in this fight and previous bouts is the lead up process.
"My whole game has changed, this is the first time I've done strength and conditioning the whole way through a training camp. I'd do a little bit when I was in Albuquerque, like the last two weeks or something. Normally I would just do my cardio at the gym. Normally I would just go in there and go balls to the wall and just finish it as fast as I could because that's my style. But I think I'm going to be patient because I'm not in any hurry. If it goes five rounds I'm completely prepared to go five rounds if I have to."
To be a successful in MMA you have to be constantly evolving, always adding pieces to your puzzle so it's harder for the other guy to figure out how to take you apart. Ian's newest addition is his approach to training. If there was ever an issue with cardio, which nobody got to exploit because most of his opponents got knocked out in the first round, it's been addressed. The addition of his newest personal puzzle piece has also changed how he approaches the upcoming fight and his prediction for how the fight will pan out.
"I don't really know how it's going to go. It kind of depends on him. I know him a little bit, not personally. I've trained with him a few times, and I ran into him at a Jiu-Jitsu tournament in Colorado one time. I don't know how he's going to come out, I don't know if he's going to be patient to and look for openings or if he's coming out balls to the wall and try and get in my face."
On paper both fighters strategies look pretty clear cut. You have the taller aggressive striker in Anthony versus the shorter collegiate wrestler in Berg. It would seem obvious that Ian would be looking for the takedown from the start. If this is the case, Anthony Smith will be a happy man.
"If he does that, I think it's going to be an easy night for me. If he's banking on trying to take me down, that's when I shine, those are my best fights. If you're going to be that one dimensional because you're worried about my stand up, that's when people make me look really good. If that's his plan, then I'm all for it and it's going to be real exciting and a shorter night than I expect. But if he's going to be patient and smart, it will be a tough fight for me."
Although it seems Anthony will be happy to let his opponent dictate the pace of the fight, don't be fooled into thinking that means it won't be exciting. Combined, these two fighters have only had one fight make it out of the second round. The VFC middleweight title fight is sure to be a top contender for FOTN. Be sure to see Anthony "Lionheart" Smith battle it out for the belt on April 13th at the Mid America Center, because the next time you want to see him fight, it may be on pay-per-view.