This weekend at UFC Fight Night 37 from Las Vegas, Nevada, fight fans are treated to a $5,000 betting pool from DraftKings and an explosive main event between Anthony “Lionheart” Smith, making his 17th appearance in the UFC, battling Ryan “Superman” Spann.
Although Anthony Smith was thought to be at the tail end of his career at this time last year, he has rebounded successfully in his last two outings. Smith notched two stoppage wins since November of 2020 and showed once again why he has only heard the judge’s scorecards 5 times in 51 professional bouts.
A longtime veteran of the sport, Smith is trying to prove that he still has some gas left in the tank and the hungry Ryan Span will be eager to put that to the test. An offensive double threat in his own right, Spann is not shy about looking for finishes and has quickly been making a name for himself in the UFC as a “do-or-die” fighter.
33-year old Smith should have no trouble luring Spann into a firefight and historically, that is the kind of fight Smith has preferred. With hours of fight time under his belt that Spann has yet to experience, there is a good reason why Smith is the -165 favorite over +145 Spann.
While there is something to be said about Spann’s success in the UFC, his strength of competition has yet to match up to the level of former title challenger Smith. I expect Smith to showcase his vintage crushing, will-breaking pressure and sharp jab to deconstruct the dangerous Spann.
Win or lose, Spann has put himself in front of his opponents. Against a gritty, well-rounded striking threat like Smith, the poor defensive habits of Spann are likely to get him dropped.
With advantages on the feet, Smith won’t likely land in much trouble against Spann, who appears to lack the power and technical prowess to outstrike him. In fact, Smith will come into this contest as the superior wrestler and if anyone is likely to secure a path to victory with takedowns, it will be Smith.
For a dynamic finisher like Spann, who tends to begin fizzling out after about a round and a half of action, a 5 round bout is a recipe for success if you’re “Lionheart”. Piling on top of the concerns for Spann, I don’t expect a grappling affair to unfold this weekend, no matter how much Spann may attempt to make that happen.
Expect Smith to begin reaping the fruits of his labor around the 3rd round when Spann is dropped into the deep end of the pool without the lungs to keep up.