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Anthony Smith Says He Asked For Fight with Roger Gracie

January 6, 2013 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas

recently spoke with MMAjunkie about his fight with Roger Gracie at Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine and more. Check out the highlights:

On wanting the fight with Gracie: “I actually asked for Roger Gracie, to tell you the truth…It was at the hotel right after I beat Lumumba Sayers. I asked for Roger Gracie as soon as that fight was over. We were back at the hotel right after I showered, and we were down in the lobby hanging out, and I asked Sean Shelby, ‘How about Roger Gracie?’ He kind of looked at me kind of crazy like, ‘Is this kid serious? Hold on a second; he’s not joking. He really wants that fight.’ My corner and training partner Jake Ellenberger was standing there, and he looked at Jake and went, ‘Is he ready for that?’ Jake said, ‘Hell yeah, he’s ready for that.'”

On the fight: “Out of the three middleweight fights on that card, I think I have the easiest one. That’s not saying I think he’s an easy fight. By no means is it an easy fight, But Roger, he’s pretty much predictable. Am I worried that Roger is going to come out and box me up and down? Not at all. I just don’t see that happening, and Roger knows that. He knows what he’s good at and what he’s going to excel at. And I know that, and I respect that, but I’m not afraid of it. I think there’s a fine line between respect and fear, and I think that a lot of people that he’s fought have been completely and utterly afraid of his ground game. If we were in a jiu-jitsu match, then Roger would spank my ass. But we’re not. I know that sounds cliched, but this is a fight. There’s a lot more to it than just jiu-jitsu.”

On Gracie’s advantage in submission wrestling: “There are five disciplines in MMA. He’s better than me at one of them. He’s not going to shoot doubles and singles. He’s not going to have the leverage over me that he has on everybody else for his clinch takedowns because we’re both 6-foot-4. He’s not going to be able to leverage me and drag me down to the ground. And I don’t see him out-kickboxing me. I’m a better athlete and faster. Yeah, if he gets a hold of me and gets me down, I’m going to be in a whole lot of s—, but I’m confident I can be safe when I need to be. It’s a super tough fight. It’s not that I think it’s going to be an easy fight, at all. I just think that I have more tools to win the fight, more ways to win it.”

On the stakes of the fight: “It’s a huge opportunity. It’s my chance to get catapulted into those conversations of the people that everyone’s talking about. When people talk about the who’s who of Strikeforce, it’s Gilbert Melendez, Pat Healy, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, Roger Gracie. There’s maybe 10 names that everybody is like, ‘OK, those dudes are tough. Those dudes are going over, for sure.’ This is my shot to be one of those dudes.”

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Jeremy Thomas
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