Anthony Smith is having a great Christmas. And now the former Pioneer grappler turned professional MMA fighter would like to make it a great 2017.
Smith scored the 26th win of his career with a knock out on an elbow and strikes against Elvis Mutapcic in early December at Las Vegas.
The first round of the Dec. 3 fight had Smith’s foe with the upper hand, or so it may have seemed.
He had Smith on the mat and was putting forth a lot of energy to implement a ground and pound strategy.
By the end of the round, the strategy had failed to produce a fight stopage.
And Smith was no worse for the wear.
He went right to strikes in the second round and dominated before ending the fight on a perfectly landed elbow followed by several on-point strikes.
The reward was a little bit of bonus money for a merry month of December.
“It’s kind of like when you find a $5 bill or a $10 bill when you are doing laundry. It was like that, except it was $50 thousand,” said Smith. “It was pretty cool.”
Keep in mind that was just the bonus for winning. Smith had his usual fight take too. Not bad for a night’s work.
In looking back on the fight, Smith said he knew he was in great shape going into the bout.
A new strength and conditioning coach and a strict diet had him in great shape and this was the first time in maybe as long as three years that Smith entered the octagon at 100 percent with no lingering injuries.
“I did everything right on this one,” said Smith. “I was in the best shape of my life and I think that showed in the performance.”
He said he enjoyed the pre-fight rituals of the press conference and promotion, something he’s learned to cope with after struggling through those kind of obligations early in his career.
Being ready had made him more relaxed too. He wasn’t stressed.
When the fight got going, Smith said he saw exactly what his game plan indicated that he would see.
The first round of ground war was evidence of his opponent’s fighting prowess.
Smith was trying for a submission in that first round and felt the second round would favor him. Boy did it ever.
“I was able to find my rhythm,” Smith of the second round. “I found my range. It was target practice from there.”
What’s next?
Smith had originally hoped for a six-week turn around to the next fight. That plan changed due to neck injury incurred in the first round of the Dec. 3 bout.

A UFC card in March might be the most likely date for Smith now. That fight would be in Las Vegas again.
“It kind of looks like the UFC is making Vegas my home turf,” said Smith. “It’s starting to feel like home. I have fought there so many times.”
By taking the time, Smith is hoping to go into the next bout at close to 100 percent health wise.
“I want to keep doing that as often as I can,” Smith said.
The right health and preparation would make another win easier to get. Smith said he hopes to stack a few wins together and encourage the UFC promoters to make a fight for him back in Omaha on the real home turf.
For now, Smith will rest, enjoy the December win, and then get back to work for a March fight.
And he might spend a little extra cash too. He definitely earned it.