Anthony Smith doesn’t like it when he doesn’t have free time.
The one-time UFC title contender is still number one in the light heavyweight division and also spends time on his Sirius XM radio show, co-hosts the Believe You Me podcast with Michael Bisping, and serves as an analyst on multiple UFC broadcasts. Not to mention, he is a husband and father who loves to spend time having outdoor adventures with his family.
Of late, Smith has been forced to put much of this on hold due to surgery on a broken leg he received in his last fight against Magomed Ankalaev in July. While the actual procedure was successful, Smith revealed during a UFC 280 preview on Fighter vs Writer that he was dealing with all sorts of other health issues that slowed down his potential return to action.
“Honestly, I’m kind of a mess right now,” Smith said. “My ankle and leg are healing well, so I haven’t been on crutches for about a week now. So I was on my own feet for about a week. Yesterday I started doing physical therapy. It’s always a struggle when you’re not used to using it and my balance is off and it’s not that strong. Still the same old fight.
“I don’t even know if I mentioned it too much, but on the night before leaving for Paris [for UFC Paris]I had a strange allergic reaction to some medications. It was quite hairy there for a while. It was a very strong anaphylactic reaction. I lost my airway, I couldn’t swallow. It was difficult for me to breathe. As soon as I got to the hospital, everything became too difficult. Then, when I returned from Paris, they found a blood clot in my leg. So I struggled with that clot for a while.”
A blood clot in the leg can develop into a much more serious problem, especially if it breaks off and ends up stuck in another blood vessel.
In severe cases, a blood clot can cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be a life-threatening situation if not treated almost immediately.
When he first heard about the diagnosis, Smith admits he was oblivious to the severity of the blood clots and the potential risk to his long-term health.
“When I returned from Paris, I had severe pain in my leg, but not where the injury was,” Smith explained. “So my wife is a nurse and she’s like, ‘You’ve got a blood clot,’ and I’m like, ‘No, you’re fucking crazy.’ Not a chance. I am young, I am healthy, I am active. Never. But apparently it has nothing to do with it. So they come in and find it, and they’re like you’re ready to go home. I remember thinking it was weird when they said, “You can go home.” As if for some reason, I wouldn’t be.
“So I go home, hop in my car, it’s already hitched to my trailer, and I just dive in. I went to Wyoming. Went and rode my Razors in the mountains, and maybe a quarter of the way the doctor calls me: “We need to get you back to the hospital, we will do this, this and that.” I’m not even close, what are you talking about? They are, where are you? I tell them I’m going to Wyoming and they go crazy. They only let me leave because they thought I was going home and not leaving the state.”
Smith was immediately put on oral blood thinners and, until recently, was required to take two injections into his stomach daily. At this time, he is still unsure how long it will take to clear a clot from his leg, so Smith remains on standby with doctors instructing him to avoid almost any physical activity.
“It’s a pretty big deal and I didn’t really know about it,” Smith said. “You don’t really think about issues like this when you’re my age, when you’re healthy and active.
“Now I understand blood clots very well. You definitely don’t want one of them hitting your lungs, brain, or heart. Blood clots do not disappear overnight. Usually this is a long test. Your body has to absorb it, it takes time and blood thinners, you can’t do anything with blood thinners. You can’t do headshots for fear of brain hemorrhage. I can’t even get a massage because they don’t want to dislodge it and send that bastard right into my lungs or something. That would be a problem. You just never know what might happen. So it sucks.”
After breaking his leg on July 30, Smith underwent surgery on his leg a week later and he expected a quick recovery in the hope that he could return to the UFC sooner rather than later.
The blood clot failure has now put all those plans on hold and Smith is effectively stuck in limbo until this is sorted out and then he can really start thinking about competition again.
“Initially, before the blood clot formed, I was hoping to fight in January,” Smith said. “Perhaps this is a little optimistic, but it is possible. But the blood clots problem really set me back. I really don’t know when I’ll be able to do all this again, because it has its own schedule. He does his thing.
“Your body just has to absorb it and that could take a month. This may take six months. It may be longer. I dont know. I hope it is sooner or later, obviously. To be honest, it was a tough year for me.”
After defeating Ryan Spann in September 2021, Smith underwent knee surgery and then contracted a staph infection that sidelined him for a few more months than originally expected.
A 10-month absence was followed by the tragic loss of his mother as Smith prepared to return to his next training camp. The 34-year-old veteran then hoped a title shot might be on the horizon with a victory over Ankalaev, but instead he broke his leg and ended the fight in the second round.
Now Smith is once again stuck waiting, not knowing when he will be able to resume his career, although he is doing his best to remain optimistic about the future, no matter what he is facing right now.
“It’s like I’m just fucking around every corner,” Smith said. “I try to look at it as positively as possible. Maybe it’s just my turn. I’m super lucky. I worked very hard, worked hard and was very active for many years. Maybe it’s just my turn to fight a little.
“Chris Weidman has always dealt with this throughout his career. He kind of got injured and struggled to stay healthy and go through camps healthy. I’m just raising him because we’re such good friends, so I know the ins and outs of his career and his journey. It could be worse. I could fight some of the things he fights. I try to keep a positive attitude about it. It’s hard when you’re in it.”