While a Smith vs Rountree Jr prediction would have been irrelevant just two weeks ago — since Anthony Smith took this short-notice fight on November 25th — we're certainly glad this battle between ranked light heavyweights is now part of this weekend's UFC Fight Night 233 event.
Both Anthony Smith and Khalil Rountree Jr are entering this fight off of a win, and with both fighters heading into the later stages of their respective careers, losing this fight could mean the end of their UFC title aspirations. With such high stakes heading in, these two technical, well-rounded warriors will have no choice but to meet in the middle of the octagon and give fans what we all want to see — hence why the only Anthony Smith vs Khalil Rountree Jr prediction that's guaranteed is excitement.
UFC Fight Night 233: Smith vs Rountree Jr Prediction
Anthony Smith Preview
Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (37-18 record with 33 finishes) might be the most respected fighter in the entire UFC. Not only are his 55 professional fights praiseworthy, but the way he goes about his business both inside and outside of the octagon has earned him endless admiration from MMA fighters, fans, and media members. But don't let his calm, articulate nature fool you: Anthony Smith is a warrior through and through.
Having lost three fights in a row before his most recent bout, Smith was at a crossroads in his career. Yet, after earning that split decision victory over Ryan Spann back in August, Smith was able to right the ship. Now, he enters a fight against Khalil Rountree Jr on Saturday where he'll likely have a distinct striking disadvantage but will be the superior grappler — proven by the 15 professional submission victories he has on his record, compared to 0 for Rountree Jr.
The boys in the booth went WILD when @LionheartASmith got the RNC finish! 🤯
— UFC Canada (@UFC_CA) December 6, 2023
Avoiding Rountree Jr's devastating power will be an absolute must for Smith on Saturday. But if he can manage to avoid those punch and kick combos, the more well-rounded Smith very well could get Rountree Jr on the ground, climb on to his back, and secure either another rear-naked choke victory or ground and pound his opponent for a TKO. Therefore, a plausible Smith vs Rountree Jr prediction is for Smith to come out with his hand raised.
Khalil Rountree Jr Preview
Khalil “The War Horse” Rountree Jr (12-5 record with eight knockouts) might be the scariest man in the light heavyweight division. Not only is he one of the most naturally powerful fighters in the entire weight class, but his prestigious Muay Thai background brings a distinct, devastating, fan-friendly style to all of his fights — and is conducive to earning performance of the night bonuses, as well. Even Dana White knows a Rountree Jr fight is must see TV.
— danawhite (@danawhite) August 13, 2023
Take Rountree Jr's most recent knockout win against Chris Daukaus back in August as the perfect example of this. Standing in his typical straight-up, high-guarded and rhythmic style, Rountree Jr dismantled Daukaus with lethal punches, kicks, and elbows, and finished him less than three minutes after the fight began.
This will be Rountree Jr's strategy against Anthony Smith, as well. Knowing he is the more powerful, technical striker, expect Rountree Jr to establish range with his kicks, sit down on his punches, and look to land elbows whenever Smith is trying to take him down. If Khalil Rountree Jr is going to win this fight, the only Smith vs Rountree Jr prediction that makes sense is another knockout added to Rountree Jr's resumé.
Anthony Smith vs Khalil Rountree Jr: Smith With The Scorecards
Our Smith vs Rountree Jr prediction is that Anthony Smith will win by decision (currently +700 odds.)
Although Smith is taking this fight on short notice, his massive experience advantage and proven championship pedigree is why we believe he'll emerge victorious on Saturday night — despite being a moderate +187 underdog.
In fact, we think Smith's most recent win against Ryan Spann — another devastating power puncher — is similar to how this fight with Rountree Jr will play out. Smith will use his smarts, remain evasive in striking exchanges, and do just enough grappling to tire Rountree Jr and emerge relatively unscathed, ultimately earning a decision victory. Yet, we also think a submission victory is live for Smith in this fight, as well — which is available at +600.
If Khalil Rountree Jr is going to win this fight, it will most likely be via knockout; probably in the first round. Because Rountree Jr has had issues with cardio in the past, the longer this fight goes, the better chances Smith has to get his hand raised. But if Rountree Jr lands something heavy — which could very well happen — then a knockout seems in store. For that reason, keep an eye on Rountree Jr by KO at -135 odds if you're keen to bet on this fight.
Whoever ends up winning this fight will continue their ascent to the light heavyweight title. And with so much risk attached to this bout, us fans are surely in for a show.