Anthony Smith Says He's Hoping for a UFC Call-Up Soon
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 12.02.2012
Fighter talks about his up and down professional and personal life...
Anthony Smith recently spoke with MMAjunkie about his career, taking on Roger Grace at Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine and more. Check out the highlights:
On his losing streak at the beginning of his career: "A lot of it was mental. I turned pro at 19 years old. I was just a young kid, and I didn't have a whole lot of direction. The gym situation in Omaha at the time was a little sketchy. There was kind of a beef going between the gyms, and the place where I'm at now, Premier Combat Center, wasn't really solidified yet. I was bouncing around to different places and just couldn't get settled in at one place."
On fighting some future UFC fighters in his early career: "I was fighting really, really tough dudes. It wasn't like I was losing to nobodies. I wasn't getting dominated. I was just undertrained, and they were all competitive fights, so I had that feeling that this could all still work, and I stayed true to myself."
On personal problems that nearly cost him everything: "A lot of it was just kind of what was kind of going on in life. I was in a bad relationship. I thought I was in love with the person and all that. It ended up falling apart. In my life, especially as a young teen, every time something didn't go my way, I turned to drinking. I just didn't know how else to deal with it."
On nearly killing himself in a car crash: "I didn't have a dad growing up. My grandpa pretty much helped raise me. He died, and then a couple years later all this stuff starts happening, and I never really dealt with my grandpa dying. I know it sounds stupid, but he was like my hero. Then all these other things started happening, and I was out partying with friends, and I ended up getting in this really bad car accident trying to make it home. The car accident was actually at 11 o'clock in the afternoon. I was still drinking from the night before. They found me unresponsive after the wreck. I hit a house. It was pretty bad. I almost killed myself"
On waking up in the hospital: "I remember waking up on life support and seeing my mom and a couple of close friends around me, and I was trying to remember what my last memory was. My last memory was at 6 a.m., and I was still out driving around, partying. I remember wiggling all my fingers and toes and thinking, 'All right, I'm not paralyzed.' I didn't know what really happened, so my mom gave me her phone, and we were typing out messages to each other since I couldn't talk. The first thing I asked is, 'What happened?' She said, 'You got in a car accident.' I didn't really want to ask, but I typed, 'Did I hurt anybody?' The whole room started crying. It was crazy because they were like, 'Wow, he really doesn't know if he killed anybody or not.' Obviously, I didn't. I was by myself. I didn't hit anybody. I just wrecked it in a one-car accident. I fell asleep on a gravel road while drunk driving, and I went in a ditch and totaled it."
On what happened to him: "I was really fortunate. I didn't take any really crazy damage. I had a fractured cheek bone. My lungs were all messed up. My face was a mess. I had stitches all over. One whole side of my nostril was completely open. It was crazy. But I was really fortunate not to have any long-term damage. When they found me, I was unresponsive. When I came back and started to wake up, I was hammered. My alcohol level was like a 0.295. I freaked out, so they sedated me, and that's how I ended up on a ventilator. It was crazy."
On getting his life back together: "After that wreck, even before court and all that, I went into treatment, and we ended up finding out that it wasn't really a drinking problem; it was more a problem that was going on in my own head, and drinking was my way of releasing it. Some people eat, some people use drugs, some people gamble and some people drink. A lot of times, that isn't the actual problem. There's a problem that's causing that problem. I dealt with that and went on with life. I haven't any problems since then. In the last three months, I've even started talking to youth prisons and even adult prisons with younger offenders who have an outdate coming up. I'm just trying to pay it forward."
On his loss at Strikeforce 20: "I was on a pretty good run, and the loss was terrible. I had a baby right before that, so I think that had a lot to do with it – not that I'm making any excuses because Amagov is a really, really tough guy. But I remember the ref looking at us and looking at him and saying, 'Are you ready?' and then looking at me and saying, 'Are you ready?' and I remember thinking, 'No, I'm not.' But you're already there, so what are you going to do? I remember thinking, 'No, I'm not ready at all. I want to be home with my new baby.' It was our first baby, and my girlfriend's due date was actually the date of the fight. She went in a week-and-a-half early, so at least I didn't miss it. But I only got to spend a couple of days with her, and then I had to go. That sucked. I missed weight because I had been in the hospital, eating hospital food. It was terrible. Then I lose, which sucked, but the money that I made losing still was able to keep us home with the baby for a long time, which was cool."
On taking control of his career after the loss: "I just went back to the regional scene. It wasn't even that they told me that I had to do that. That was actually my own choice. They didn't say to me, 'We don't have a spot for you. Maybe you should take a fight somewhere else.' It was just, 'Maybe this day, maybe that day.' I was like, 'Well, then screw it. Can I fight somewhere else?' They were cool with it, so that's what I did. I think a lot of the reason people won't do that is because no one wants to take that risk. No one wants to lose because no one really knows what's going to happen if you take that loss. You could get cut. Who knows?"
On looking back at how far he's come: "It's crazy to look where I used to be – sitting in that airport, four losses in a row, to fighting Roger Gracie right now. That's just crazy to me. A lot of it is maturity. I'm an adult now. Even back then, my age showed that I was an adult, but I wasn't. I wasn't acting like an adult, and I wasn't doing the things I needed to be doing. Even in the last year, a lot has changed. I've come a long way. I'm a family man now. I'm not doing the things I used to do. I still have a casual drink here and there, but I'm not out partying. I'm not out chasing girls and trying to be cool. I've got a wonderful girlfriend at home and a daughter. It's work, church and home for me, and I'm just living a completely different life than I was back then."
On focusing on his career: "The short-term goal is to make my family as comfortable as I possible can. I would love for my girlfriend to be able to stay home and focus on school or whatever she wants to do. That's the main goal: to support my family while doing what I love to do. I'm already doing that, but it would be nice instead of renting a house to go buy a house and have 'our house.' Then the main goal is probably everyone's goal: I want to be a world champion. I want someone to call me the best. I want to be the best, and I want everyone in the world to know it."
On a potential UFC call-up: "They can't tell me no forever. I've got time. I'm only 24 years old, and I'm going to continue fighting regardless. But Dana White is an easy man to please. You show up, you fight your ass off, and you please the crowd; that's pretty much all he wants. That's what I'm going to do."