Rountree (12-5 MMA, 8-5 UFC) meets Smith (37-18 MMA, 12-8 UFC) in a light heavyweight bout that co-headlines Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 233 event at the UFC Apex. The card streams on ESPN+.
Currently riding a four-fight winning streak, Rountree could be on the cusp of landing his desired headlining spot if he beats former title challenger Smith.
“I’d imagine that it would bring me higher in the rankings. I’d imagine that it would bring a good wave of new fans and potential popularity,” Rountree told MMA Junkie and other reporters at a pre-fight news conference Wednesday. “I think it just helps my career elevate to another level or stage. The fact that this fight is co-main event is a great warm-up to a main event and being able to, I guess, even be worthy of having a main event.”
Rountree was originally scheduled to face rising undefeated contender Azamat Murzakanov, but Murzakanov withdrew and was replaced by Smith, whom Rountree admits is a bigger opportunity.
“I believe so, yeah,” Rountree said. “I can say that honestly. Yeah, it did excite me a little bit more only because I’ve had past conversations about this potential matchup, maybe one or two fights from now or something like that. So, the name has definitely come up in the past as far as just what to aim for and reaching for a title shot.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 233.