Smith's goal unchanged after Gustafsson upset: rematch Jon Jones

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UFC light heavyweight Anthony Smith will take the summer off to rest and recover from a busy year. Division contenders can wait.

“I can just sit at the top and let those guys fight it out,” Smith (32-14 MMA, 8-4 UFC) told reporters after his submission win over three-time title challenger Alexander Gustafsson (18-6 MMA, 10-6 UFC) at UFC on ESPN+ 11. “I’m going to hang out up here for a while and we’ll see what it looks like later on.”

Smith needs to check on a broken hand suffered early in the fight. That adds to the undisclosed injury or injuries for which he got a “pretty foolproof bandaid” to make a quick turnaround from a loss to champ Jon Jones.

The win over Gustafsson bucked what Smith believes is a trend of losing title challengers stumbling further in their immediate fights. Smith is happy about what he’s done, but is he satisfied?

“Well, not completely, which is kind of indicative of my whole life,” he said. “I think that I have the answer of what’s going to make it go away, and it never does. I’m very happy. I’m going to sleep good tonight. But we’ve got to get better, because I didn’t do everything I wanted to do.”

The ultimate goal, he added, has always been to get back to Jones, who routed him when they faced off in March at UFC 235.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve told Jon – I’ll see you again,” Smith said. “And that’s what I’m working toward. I’m working toward the fight with Jon. I want to get back to the title shot, and that’s the goal. So whatever that looks like when I come back, I’ll figure out this hand injury and go from there. I wouldn’t still be here if I wasn’t chasing Jon Jones.”

Gustafsson decided he couldn’t stick around any longer after a submission loss in the fourth round of Saturday’s fight, which left him at 2-4 in his past six outings. Crestfallen at another setback, which like Smith followed a title loss to Jones, he laid his gloves in the octagon.

“I just hope that he doesn’t look at a loss to me as something super negative, because I think people are having a hard time getting used to me being at the top,” Smith said of Gustafsson. “And I don’t think me beating him is a reflection of him falling off the wagon or losing his edge, or not being good any more. I’m just not going to be turned away. I hope that he can look at it like that.

“It sounds silly, but it’s not you, it’s me.”

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