In his second fight back post his third career suspension, Jon Jones was once again dominant, and made it all look easy.
Jones defeated Anthony Smith by unanimous decision at UFC 235’s headliner event Saturday night to retain the light heavyweight title and officially overcome a two-point deduction for an illegal knee to the head of Smith in round four. The unanimous decision was made following the fifth round.
Throughout the fight, Smith seemed over matched by Jones, and stated in his post-fight press conference that he essentially let “Jon Jones be Jon Jones.” Jones started off the first round with several spinning kicks to Smith’s body, and also landed a few hard shots in the calf area. Smith did however cause some damage in the area of Jones’ left eye when he landed a counter right hand punch in the second round. Because of the excellent success Jones had at landing both punches/kicks on the body of Smith, he outstruck Smith 238-45.
Had Smith not been able to continue the fight because of Jones’ illegal knee, it would’ve been extremely likely that Jones would’ve lost the fight due to disqualification. Another factor that would’ve played into a possible disqualification is if the referees of the fight determined that it was an intentional move on Jones’ part. Disqualification is how Jones lost his first, and only ever fight in 2009 when he was called for an illegal strike against Matt Hamill.
The 31-year-old Jones told ESPN post-fight that he started to experience ‘flashbacks’ of the Hamill incident following the illegal strike call. He acknowledged that the fight also could very well been offer as a result of his kneeing, and shared that Smith will “always have his respect” for finishing the fight. All three scorecards had Jones as the 48-34 winner.
When it comes to what is next for Jones in terms of when he will fight again, Jones did not give a definitive answer. He wants to fight four times in 2019, which will make his next fight his second title defense fight since returning from suspension, and his tenth overall.
With the win tonight, Jones tied Demetrious Johnson for the second-most wins in title fights in UFC history (12), with only Georges St-Pierre ahead with 13. Jones now has a 24-1 record career in his career that also includes one fight was deemed a no-contest against Daniel Cormier at UFC 214. He won that fight via knockout, but the California State Athletic Commission elected to over-turn the result of the fight following news of a failed drug test by Jones. UFC President Dana White also elected to strip Jones of the light heavyweight title in-favor of Cormier as a result of the suspension.
In the co-main event at UFC 235, Kamary Usman stunned Tyron Woodley, and dominated the fight to win via unamious decision in the fifth round. This made Usman UFC’s first African-born champion, and the fourth fighter to start his UFC career 10-0 or better, joining Silva, Royce Gracie, and Khabib Nurmagomedov, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Photo: Zuffa LLC, video courtesy of UFC
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