Anthony Smith doesn’t like having free time.
The former UFC title challenger remains one of the highest ranked light heavyweights while spending time on his Sirius XM radio show, co-hosting the Believe You Me podcast with Michael Bisping and as an analyst on many UFC shows. That doesn’t even mention that he’s a husband and father, who loves spending time on outdoor adventures with his family.
Lately, Smith has been forced to put most of that on hold after undergoing surgery on a broken leg he suffered in his last fight against Magomed Ankalaev in July. While the actual procedure was a success, Smith revealed during a UFC 280 preview on The fighter against the writer that he’s been dealing with all sorts of other health issues that have slowed his potential return to acting.
“To be honest with you, I’m kind of a mess right now,” Smith said. “The ankle itself and the leg are healing well, so I’ve been off crutches for about a week now. So I’ve been on my own for about a week. I started physiotherapy yesterday. It’s still a fight when you’re not used to using it and my balance is off and it’s not as strong. Just that same old battle.
“I don’t even know if I’ve talked about it too much, but the day before I went to Paris [for UFC Paris], I had a strange allergic reaction to some medications. It was pretty hairy there for a little while. It was a very bad anaphylactic reaction. I was losing my airways, I couldn’t swallow. I had trouble breathing. I had barely made it to the hospital in time before things got too difficult. Then after I returned from Paris, they found a blood clot in my leg. So I’ve been battling this blood clot for a while.
A blood clot in the leg can become a much bigger problem, especially if it breaks loose and ends up getting stuck in another blood vessel.
In severe cases, a blood clot can cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be life threatening if medical treatment is not received almost immediately.
When he first heard the diagnosis, Smith admits he was unaware of the seriousness of the blood clots and the potential for serious risk to his long-term health.
“When I came back from Paris I had a lot of pain in my leg but not where the injury was,” Smith explained. “So my wife is a nurse and she’s like ‘you have a blood clot’ and I’m like no, you’re crazy. No chance. I’m young, I’m healthy, I’m active. Definitely not. But apparently it has nothing to do with it. So they come in and they find it and they’re like you’re ready to go home. I remember thinking it was weird the way they said that like “you’re good for go home”. As if for a reason, I wouldn’t have been.
“So I come home and jump in my vehicle and it’s already hooked up to my trailer and I just dove in. I went to Wyoming. I went to ride my razors in the mountains and probably about a quarter of the way the doctor called me “we have to get you back to the hospital, we’re going to do this, this and that”. I’m like I ain’t even close, what you talking about? They’re like where are you? I told them I was on my way to Wyoming and they freaked out. They only let me go because they thought I was going home, not leaving the state.
Smith was immediately put on oral anticoagulants and had to have twice daily injections into his stomach until recently. As it stands, he still doesn’t know how long it will take for the blood clot to clear from his leg. Smith therefore remains on standby, with doctors ordering him to avoid almost all physical activity.
“It’s a big deal and I didn’t really know it,” Smith said. “You don’t really think about those kinds of issues when you’re my age when you’re healthy and active.
“Now I know blood clots very well. You definitely don’t want any of them exploding in your lungs, brain, or heart. Blood clots do not disappear overnight. It’s usually a long ordeal. Your body has to absorb it, it takes time and blood thinners, you really can’t do anything with blood thinners. You cannot be shot in the head for fear of brain hemorrhage. I can’t even get a massage because they don’t want to dislodge him and send that son of a bitch straight into my lungs or something. That would be a problem. You never know what can happen. So it sucks.
After breaking his leg on July 30, Smith underwent leg surgery a week later and expected a quick recovery in hopes of returning to the UFC sooner rather than later.
The setback with the blood clot has now put all of those plans on hold with Smith essentially stuck in limbo until that’s sorted out and then he can really start thinking about the competition again.
“Originally, before the blood clot, I was hoping to fight in January,” Smith said. “It’s probably a little optimistic, but it’s possible. But the blood clot issue really set me back. I don’t really know when I’ll be able to do all this again because it’s on its own timeline. He does his own thing.
“Your body just has to absorb it and it could take a month. It could take six months. It could be longer. I don’t know. I hope it’s as soon as possible obviously. For to be honest with you, it’s been a tough year for me.
Following a victory over Ryan Spann in September 2021, Smith ended up having knee surgery and then contracted a staph infection afterwards which sidelined him for several months longer than originally planned.
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 could be on the horizon with a win over Ankalaev, but instead his leg broke and the fight ended in the second round.
Now, Smith is once again stuck waiting with no real idea of when he might be able to resume his career, although he’s doing his best to remain optimistic about the future no matter what he’s facing right now.
“It’s like I’m getting f****** on every corner,” Smith said. “I try to see it in the most positive way possible. Maybe it’s just my turn. I’ve been super lucky. I’ve worked very hard and I’ve worked a lot and I’ve been very active for many years. Maybe it’s just my turn to struggle a bit.
“Chris Weidman has always dealt with this throughout his career. He was somehow injured and struggled to stay healthy and make it through the camps healthy. I just raised him because we’re such good friends, so I know the intricacies of his career and his background. It could be worse. I might struggle with some of the things he fights. Try to keep a positive mindset about it. It’s hard when you’re in it. »