Anthony Smith UFC

Khalil “The War Horse” Rountree, 33, has dealt with injury and outside-the-cage obstacles for most of his career. Yet, due in part to a four-fight win streak that included three finishes, Rountree has cracked the light heavyweight rankings at #11.

Anthony “Lionheart” Smith currently sits at #8 in the rankings and will defend that number against Rountree at UFC Fight Night 233.

Rountree vs. Smith odds

Rountree opened as a sizable favorite and has slightly been bet down over the week.

  • Khalil Rountree: -250
  • Anthony Smith: +190

Rountree vs. Smith prediction

Rountree is a strong, athletic, and powerful Muay Thai striker with a devastating back leg kick, especially to the body. He’s at his best in the first round where he can move forward at his prefered pace. Because of his power and speed early in fights, Rountree is often able to dictate space and pace without having to throw much volume. Simply the threat of his power causes a cautious opponent. If opponents decide caution isn’t warrant, Rountree has the power to end the fight quickly.

But, in fights that enter the later rounds, Rountree’s cardio starts to deplete and his explosive strikes, especially that body kick, get slower and less powerful. Lastly, if force to grapple- something he struggles to defend with only a 56% takedown defense- Rountree can be controlled and his gas tank depleted at an even faster rate. In short, Rountree often has to win early or find himself in a measured and low volume Muay Thai match to find consistent success.

Speaking of consistency, Smith is one of the strangest competitors on the roster. While his overall record, 37-18, would suggest some inconsistency, his success or failure in the cage is consistently predictive. When he faces someone ranked above him, he losses. But, when he faces someone down in the rankings, he wins. That trend has less to do with the arbitrary number next to the names of the fighters and more to do with Smith’s inconsistent style in the cage.

He is a technical striker who still carries power; but, as he’s aged, Smith’s speed and reflexes have significantly slowed. He has always been hittable but durable, earning him the nickname “Lionheart.” As he’s gotten older, though, Smith’s hittability has remained while his durability has become more inconsistent. Smith has pivoted to more of a wrestler and grappler because of his shakier chin. He’s always been a strong submission fighter with a good clinch game but his wrestling has been inconsistent- landing takedowns at only a 28% clip. Instead, Smith’s recent style has been more of a survive and thrive approach. He survives enough on the feet to create chaos, then he’ll rally back and find a finish or use his superior cardio to land more volume as the fight progresses. The skills are there but the durability and reliability of Smith are less predictable than ever.

Rountree vs. Smith prediction

The key in handicapping this fight is market overcorrection. Skill-wise, both of these fighters are incredibly inconsistent and should rarely, if ever, be north of a -200 favorite over another ranked fighter.

However, because of Rountree’s recent surge and Smith’s recent struggles, the market has overvalued Rountree. Looking closer, though, Rountree’s successes aren’t as impressive as they first may seem and Smith’s struggles aren’t as concerning. Rountree is on a four-fight win streak that includes three finishes. But, all three of those finishes came against unranked fighters. His only fight against a ranked fighter was a narrow split decision- one that I personally ruled against Rountree.

Meanwhile, Smith’s only losses in the last 5 years have come against fighters ranked above him. Looking at market value, Smith is the better bet. Beyond the market, neither of these fighters have ever been consistent in their careers and I prefer to bet both when they’re the underdog; again, a point in Smith’s favor. Lastly, Rountree’s grappling and cardio issues are more concerning than Smith’s durability. Outside of a round 1 finish for Rountree, I expect Smith to push a pace on the feet, clinch, and wrestle as the fight goes on en route to a victory.

Best Bet: Smith to win (+190)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *