Anthony Smith reveals serious health complications after leg surgery slowing down his return to fighting

Anthony Smith doesn’t enjoy having idle time on his hands.

The one-time UFC title challenger remains a top ranked light heavyweight while also spending time on his Sirius XM radio show, co-hosting the Believe You Me podcast with Michael Bisping and serving as an analyst on numerous UFC broadcasts. That’s not even mentioning that he’s a husband and father, who adores spending time by having 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 most recent fight against Magomed Ankalaev in July. While actual procedure was a success, Smith revealed during a UFC 280 preview on The Fighter vs. The Writer that he’s been dealing with all sorts of other health issues that have slowed down his potential return to action.

“To be honest with you, I’m kind of a mess right now,” Smith said. “The ankle itself and the leg is healing up nicely so I’ve been off of crutches for about a week now. So I’ve been on my own two feet for about a week. Started physical therapy yesterday. It’s always a struggle 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 mentioned it too much but the night before I went to Paris [for UFC Paris], I had a weird allergic reaction to some meds. It was pretty hairy there for a little while. It was a really bad anaphylactic reaction. I was losing my airway, I couldn’t swallow. I was having a tough time breathing. Kind of barely got to the hospital in time before things got too rough. Then after I got back 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 develop into a much more serious issue, especially if it breaks loose and eventually gets stuck in another blood vessel.

In severe cases, a blood clot can cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be a life-threatening situation if medical treatment isn’t received almost immediately.

When he first heard the diagnosis, Smith admits he was oblivious to the severity surrounding blood clots and the potential for serious risk to his long term health.

“When I got 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’ve got a blood clot’ and I’m like no, you’re godd*** crazy. Not a chance. I’m young, I’m healthy, I’m active. No way. But apparently that has nothing to do with it. So they go in and they find it and they’re like you’re good to go home. I remember thinking that was weird the way they said that like ‘you’re good to go home.’ As if some reason, I wouldn’t have been.

“So I go home and I jump in my vehicle and it’s already hooked up to my trailer and I just dip. I went to Wyoming. Went and rode my Razors up in the mountains and probably a quarter of the way there the doctor calls me ‘we need to get you back in the hospital, we’re going to do this, this and this.’ I’m like I’m not even close, what are you talking about? They’re like where are you? I tell them I’m on my way to Wyoming and they flipped out. They only let me leave because they thought I was going home, not leaving the state.”

Smith was immediately put on oral blood thinners as well as being required to do two injections in his stomach daily until just recently. As it stands, he’s still not sure how long it will take to clear the blood clot from his leg so Smith remains on standby with doctors ordering him to avoid almost all physical activity.

“It’s a pretty big deal and I didn’t really know that,” 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’m extremely versed in blood clots. You definitely don’t want one of those kicking off into your lungs or your brain or your heart. Blood clots don’t just go away overnight. It’s a long ordeal typically. Your body has to absorb it, that takes time and the blood thinners, you can’t really do anything on blood thinners. You can’t take any shots to the head out of fear of brain bleeds. I can’t even get massages because they don’t want to dislodge it and send that son of a b**** straight to my lungs or something. That would be a problem. You just never know what can happen. So that sucks.”

After suffering the broken leg on July 30, Smith underwent surgery on his leg one week later and he anticipated a quick recovery with hopes that he could return to the UFC sooner rather than later.

The setback with the blood clot has now put all those plans on hold with Smith basically stuck in limbo until that’s dealt with and then he can actually start thinking about competing again.

“Initially before the blood clot, I was hoping to fight in January,” Smith said. “It’s probably a little bit optimistic but it’s possible. But the blood clot issue really set me back. I don’t actually know when I’ll be able to do all that stuff again because it’s on its own timeline. It does its own thing.

“Your body just has to absorb it and that could take a month. It could take six months. It could be longer. I don’t know. I hope it’s sooner rather than later obviously. It’s been kind of a rough year for me to be honest with you.”

Following a win over Ryan Spann in September 2021, Smith ended up having surgery on his knee and then contracted a staph infection afterwards that sidelined him for several more months than initially expected.

A 10-month absence was followed by the tragic loss of his mother just as Smith was preparing to get back into his next training camp. The 34-year-old veteran was then hopeful that a title shot could be on the horizon with a win over Ankalaev but instead his leg snapped and the fight ended in the second round.

Now Smith is stuck waiting yet again with no real clue about when he might be able to resume his career, although he’s doing his best to stay upbeat about the future regardless of what he’s facing right now.

“It’s like I’m just getting f****** around every corner,” Smith said. “I try to look at it as positively as possible. Maybe it’s just my turn. I’ve been super fortunate. I’ve grinded really hard and put a lot of work in and was super active for a lot of years. Maybe it’s just my turn to struggle a little bit.

Chris Weidman has always dealt with that his whole entire career. He’s kind of been injury ridden and struggled staying healthy and getting through camps healthy. I just bring him up because we’re such good friends so I know the intricacies of his career and his path. It could be worse. I could be battling through some of the things he’s battling through. Trying to keep a positive mindset about it. It’s tough when you’re in it.”

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