Aleksandar Rakic
Aleksandar Rakic Image Credit: USA Today

Dubai: Austrian MMA expert Aleksandar Rakic said it’s time he was recognised as a genuine title contender after waltzing to a convincing win over former title-challenger Anthony Smith in the main event at UFC Fight Night 175 in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

Rakic (13-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) systematically attacked Smith (33-16 MMA, 8-6 UFC) with damaging leg kicks and also had the upper hand when the fight went to the ground.

The judges had an easy task of scoring the fight 30-26, 30-27, 30-27 in favour of the up-and-coming 28-year-old from Vienna.

“It feels amazing,” Rakic said after the three-round contest. “My first main event and in the fight capital, I had a lot of pressure because many people from my home were watching and supporting me.

“The pressure is off my shoulders and I’m happy with my performance against a veteran and former title challenger.

“Everybody underestimates my wrestling and my grappling. The focus was a lot of pressure, make damage on the ground, (and) control. I showed the world and division that I’m not only a dangerous striker. I can wrestle, grapple and dominate on the ground,” he added.

“These guys need to take me seriously now because I’m in the top five.

You know what’s next. The belt is next.”

In the other big fight of the night, Neil Magny (24-7 MMA, 17-6 UFC) produced the best performance of his career to defeat former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler (28-15 MMA, 13-9 UFC)

This was Magny’s third straight win and it propelled him into the No. 2 spot for career UFC welterweight wins, just two behind Georges St-Pierre.

Lawler suffered his fourth straight defeat in the welterweight division.

“It’s definitely a feather in the cap beating a legend like Robbie Lawler,” said the 33-year-old Magny who is of Haitian and Dominican descent.

“This guy’s done amazing things in the sport throughout his time here. It was literally an honour for me to go in there and face him tonight.

“It feels good to actually be able to execute a game plan and come out victorious with a guy like Robbie Lawler.”

Earlier on the 11-event card, Sean Brady captured his third straight UFC win with a guillotine choke against Christian Aguilera while Alex Caceres maintained his winning streak with first-round submission stoppage over Austin Springer.

In a women’s strawweight contest, Brazil’s Polyana Viana employed a first-round armbar to snuff out the challenge of Emily Whitmire.