Anthony Smith opens up about nearly dying and the emotional toll of his mother’s death

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UFC light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith has been through a difficult year, which has included the death of his mother and life-threatening injuries. (Photo by Chris Ungar / Zuffa LLC)

Throughout his mixed martial arts career, and indeed, throughout his life, Anthony Smith has been the living, breathing definition of a tough guy. When he was 19, he was driving under the influence and his car crashed into the side of a house. He was near death, but he managed to survive and went on to become one of the world's elite light heavyweights.

He fought for the world title and gave a good account of himself in defeating then-champion Jones. He has become a popular TV analyst and remains a legitimate contender in the heavyweight division at 205 pounds.

The last year, however, has been extremely difficult for Smith. His mother, Dixie Jean Tonacchio, died on May 6, 2022. His grief was not over when he fought Magomed Anklav at UFC 277 on July 30, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. He broke his ankle in a fight with Anklaw, which led to a surgery and all kinds of other physical problems.

He was scheduled to fight Jamahl Hill earlier this year, but then Hill pulled out of a bout with Smith and went into a title match with Teixeira. Hill won and became the Light Heavyweight Champion. Smith served as back-up but did not make weight.

As always there is a story behind it too. But as Smith talked to Yahoo Sports on Tuesday about his bout with Johnnie Walker on Saturday in the UFC Charlotte co-main event, as well as his craziness over the past 12 months, he couldn't help but think about his mother. couldn't help It was only a few days of the year that she passed away. She brought him up, as her father was out of the picture with her grandfather.

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Looking back on the events of the past year—he broke his ankle, had surgery, developed blood clots that nearly killed him—he was overwhelmed. His mother had always been a major force in his life. As he put it, overcoming what he did proved that he “can do difficult things.”

It wore him out but also gave him a feeling.

“It's okay not to be okay,” Smith said.

A week after the loss to Anklaw, Smith underwent surgery to repair injuries to his foot and ankle and was placed in a cast. A week after surgery, he was in San Diego, California, working the desk on an ESPN broadcast of a fight card headlined by Dominick Cruz and Marlon “Chito” Vieira. Always a tough man, Smith insisted on working and not taking time off.

DALLAS, TEXAS - JULY 29: Anthony Smith stands on the scale during the UFC 277 Ceremonial Weigh-In at American Airlines Center on July 29, 2022 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Carmen Mandato / Getty Images)

Anthony Smith, who faces Johnnie Walker on Saturday in the UFC Charlotte co-main in Charlotte, North Carolina, has faced many problems in his life. (Carmen Mandetto / Getty Images)

After San Diego, he worked shows in Las Vegas the following week and Paris the week after that. This turned out to be problematic.

“I had surgery on my ankle and foot on Saturday, and by Thursday I was in San Diego a fight,” Smith said. “Then the next weekend I was in Vegas and the weekend after that I was in Paris. I was flying all over the country, all over the world, and I was in a cast. It's kind of a mess. I almost died.

“The before I left for Paris, I had an anaphylactic reaction to antibiotics and blood thinners. I was in the by 4 or 5 a.m. the day I left to fly to Paris. I was losing my airway. It was terrible. That afternoon, I flew to Paris without any blood thinners and antibiotics. That's probably where the blood clot came from. And once I had a blood clot, I was forced to sit I couldn't travel. I couldn't do anything I loved to do and I couldn't do anything with physical contact for four months because I was on all those blood-thinning drugs. I was having injections in my stomach twice a day. It was a totally ordeal.”

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Smith was walking on crutches and his doctor feared he might fall and injure his head because he was on high levels of blood thinners. This forced her to go to a clinic every other day for four months, she was barred from having contact because the doctors weren't sure what caused her to have an anaphylactic reaction. He drastically changed the dose of blood thinner he received at each visit.

All the health scares could drag him down, but he had a different way of looking at them. His success as a fighter and broadcaster gave him a financial stability he had never had before. And when he finally got healthy and was able to train, he was really looking forward to doing it.

“I Get to do but i don't Near To do this,” Smith said. “I'm doing it because I want to, because I like to do it, not because I have to. Knowing that a change in mindset makes a big difference. Many times people think, ‘I have to do this. i need to win I need . But for me, thankfully, it's different. I don't need money. I don't need to win. i want to. i want to fight I love fighting and I am lucky because of my financial situation that I can do what I love.

“After [Ryan] The spain fight, I had knee surgery and ended up with a really bad staph infection and I was on a pickup line to get antibiotics for 12 weeks. There were some situations where if things got a little hairy than before, I didn't need to do it anymore. And it's helping me because I love it. I'm dealing with the loss of my mom better as time goes on. I've lived a crazy life. I am not even 35 and neither are my .”

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He paused for several seconds and took a deep breath. He had an exceptionally close relationship with his mother and was shattered by the loss of her. He has lived through tragedy time and again and it affects the way he lives and views the world.

“I buried both my parents in the last three years,” Smith said. “I don't have any grandparents. I don't have any family. It's just me and my own family that I've made. It's me, my wife and my kids. That's all I've got in this whole world. I've got mental had to work to get to a good place and stop feeling sorry for myself. Like I said, I had to realize that it's okay not to be okay all the time. I'm sure I'll have some breakdowns and I Will cry about it this week, but I'll be back to training. I'm just tired of being the f***ing tough guy all the time.