Ankalaev (18-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) gave more fuel to the theory he’ll be a future champion when he earned a second-round TKO victory former title challenger Smith (36-17 MMA, 11-7 UFC), who appeared to suffer a serious leg injury in the fight.
The Russian used his ground-and-pound to extend his winning streak to nine fights in the 205-pound matchup, which took place at American Airlines Center in Dallas and opened the pay-per-view main card.
The opening round saw Ankalaev and Smith exchanging kicks and battling for territory in the center of the cage. Both men landed some hard kicks, and a slip late in the round saw Smith find himself on his back while Ankalaev stood over him peppering kicks.
Smith limped back to his corner after Round 1, and noted a potential issue to his corner. He came out in Round 2 with a flurry and a leg kick before changing levels into a wobbly takedown attempt that was denied and ultimately ended up with Ankalaev on top.
At that point, the broadcast noted Smith was compromised, and he covered up as Ankalaev showered him with punches for the stoppage at the 3:09 mark of Round 2. Immediately after the stoppage, Smith told a member of the Texas commission that he suffered a broken leg before he was carried out of the octagon and into the backstage area.
With the win, Ankalaev breaks out of a tie with Lyoto Machida for the second-longest winning streak in divisional history at eight. His nine-fight trails only Jon Jones’ 13-fight streak for the longest run in the history of the weight class.
Given his body of work that includes wins over former title challengers Smith, Thiago Santos and Volkan Oezdemir, there’s no doubt the 30-year-old will find himself near the forefront of the conversation to challenge champion Jiri Prochazka (29-3-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC).
“Of course this fight was very important for me,” Smith told Joe Rogan post-fight through an interpreter. “He wanted a fight and we showed him a fight.
Smith, meanwhile, had his three-fight winning streak brought to an end. “Lionheart” is now 3-3 overall in his past six fights dating back to May 2020.
Up-to-the-minute UFC 277 results include:
Magomed Ankalaev def. Anthony Smith via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:09
Alex Morono def. Matthew Semelsberger via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Drew Dober def. Rafael Alves via knockout (body punch) – Round 3, 1:30
Hamdy Abdelwahab vs. Don’Tale Mayes via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Drakkar Klose def. Rafa Garcia via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Michael Morales def. Adam Fugitt via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 1:09
Joselyne Edwards def. Ji Yeon Kim via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Nicolae Negumereanu def. Ihor Potieria via TKO (knees, punches) – Round 2, 3:33
Orion Cosce def. Blood Diamond via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 277.