Anthony Smith will look to continue his improbable rise towards becoming a light heavyweight contender when he battles Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in the main event of UFC Fight Night 134.
The fight will headline the UFC’s card Sunday in Hamburg, Germany, marking the second time that the UFC has come to the city.
Smith Favored Over Former Champion Rua
Anthony Smith (29-13) is in his second tour as a UFC fighter, having briefly made the move over to the promotion from Strikeforce in 2013. At the time, he failed to make much of an impression, but Smith has been better since returning in 2016, winning five of his seven fights with the company.
While most of his career has been spent as a middleweight, Smith’s last fight signaled a move to light heavyweight, where he scored a win over former champion Rashad Evans, knocking out his opponent in the first minute of the fight.
Rua (25-10) is riding a three-fight winning streak, and currently ranks as the No. 8 light heavyweight in UFC. He was once considered one of the elite fighters in his weight class, beating Lyoto Machida to win the light heavyweight championship at UFC 113 in 2010. While he’s never quite recaptured that form, the 36-year-old Rua remains a big draw, and current champion Daniel Cormier has singled him out if he can impress against Smith.
“I got very happy at Cormier’s statement for obvious reasons,” Rua told Sporting News. “But at the same time, I know that my opportunities and success depend on each and every fight…and right now, I have a very tough fight ahead of me against Anthony Smith.”
Smith comes into the fight as a late replacement for Volkan Oezdemir, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a winnable matchup for him. In fact, Smith enters the bout as the favorite, with oddsmakers expecting that his superior brawling will make up for any deficiencies in his ground game, which may not even come into play in a fight that could easily see both fighters stay on their feet. Bwin has posted Smith as a -250 favorite over Rua (+180).
Teixeira Looks to Rejoin Title Picture
The co-main event sees two top-ten contenders in the light heavyweight division square off as No. 3 Glover Teixeira (27-6) looks to move closer to a title shot by facing off with ninth-ranked Corey Anderson (10-4).
To even get in the picture as someone Cormier might consider for a title defense – other names that have been floated include Rua or Alexander Gustafsson – he’ll need a convincing victory over Anderson, an accomplished wrestler who bounced back with a win over Patrick Cummins in April following two knockout losses in a row.
While the 28-year-old Anderson is still improving, Teixeira feels confident that he can handle him for now.
“I just think I have too much for him,” Teixeira told MMA Junkie. “I’m going to push him. I appreciate that he took this fight, but I have to do my job. I’m going to have to finish this fight.”
Teixeira (-182) has been made the favorite for the bout, though Anderson (+135) is only a small underdog, with oddsmakers giving him a chance to pull off a signature upset and start to put himself in the conversation with the division’s legitimate contenders.
In total, UFC Fight Night 134 features 13 fights, six of which will appear on the main card. Other interesting matchups include Vitor Miranda (+145) taking on Abu Azaitar (-200) in a middleweight contest, and a heavyweight fight between No. 9 Marcin Tybura (-250) and No. 13 Stefan Struve (+180).