Through all five rounds in the UFC 235 main event, Jon Jones dominated the latest challenger to his throne, Anthony Smith.
In the main event at UFC 235 on Saturday night, Jon Jones looked to defend his light heavyweight title, hitting the octagon for the second time in a matter of months. After returning in December against rival Alexander Gustafsson, a different kind of opponent awaited in Las Vegas Saturday. Anthony Smith wasn’t playing the trash talk game. He wasn’t focusing on Jones’ foibles outside the cage.
Instead, ‘Lionheart’ was all business. Coming in on a three-fight win streak at light heavyweight, the big question was whether Smith could solve the puzzle that everyone in the UFC had failed to thus far. Anthony Smith entered the world famous UFC octagon one of the biggest underdogs in the history of the organization, despite having the greater experience.
In the first of a possible five rounds, both Jones and Smith met in the middle of the octagon. In the feeling out process, it was Smith that landed the first significant leg kick. Smith was continuing to use the front kick to find his reach, still battling for the middle of the cage. Jones loaded up, throwing a right then left overhand, missing both, but later landing a powerful spinning back kick to the mid-section of Smith. Another successful spinning back kick to the bodyfollowed for Jones, shortly after absorbing a head kick from Smith. A sick kick found it’s mark, as the champion was using his length to his advantage. Wrapping up the first round, it was ‘Bones’ who would land the greater, more damaging shots.
In the second round, after both corners giving their instructions, the two pressured for the center. Jones and Smith were exchanging, however, it was Jon Jones doing the majority of damage with his leg strikes. Anthony Smith found himself with his back to the cage, ‘Bones’ pressing the action, looking for knee strikes from the clinch. They broke apart. Smith displayed some great speed, but nothing had found a home just yet for the title challenger. Jones and Smith were trading front kicks, again, it was the champion delivering the greater damage. In the remaining seconds of the second round, Jones attempted a take down, Smith would defend, and the possible five-round title fight will head to the third. You’ve got to think at that point, the champion was winning on the judges score cards.
Jones and Smith met in the middle, where the champ landed an overhand right, later searching for another take down, using the level change to land a powerful knee to the midsection of the challenger. Smith had defended at this point three take down attempts, displaying good defense as the two remained in a clinch. Jones was using leg strikes, hoping to set up an opportunity to bring the fight to the mat or set up a flurry of strikes. Jon Jones found the take down in a violent manner, now on top; it looked as though Smith was using this time to recover, which may have been difficult. That, as Jones has his hand covering the mouth of Smith, blocking potential air flow (yes, that is legal). As the third round came to an end, Jones looked to let Smith up, where Anthony then made an attempt at a take down of his own. No success, and the fight headed to the first of two possible championship rounds. Controlling majority of the round, you had to think Jones was now up three rounds. Smith needed a finish.
15 seconds into the fourth round, the champion looked to attempt a flying knee, transitioning to a failed kick. Landing with yet another spinning back kick to the body, Smith looked hurt. Jones smelled blood and attacked, using his elbows when within reach. The champion tripped Smith, bringing him to the mat once again, striking from his knees. It looked as though the challenger had only one option, that was surviving any way he could, bleeding from his nose. ‘Bones’ took the back, looking to set up a possible rear-naked choke. Anthony Smith made it back to his feet, but Jones lifted him, bringing him back to the ground where he still had his back. He was landing elbows and punches, pushing Smith up against the cage. Due to an illegal strike, just shy of the end of the round, ref Herb Dean took two points from Jon Jones. The blow, seen on replay (used in the cage in a rare occurrence) was an illegal knee while Smith was down and up against the cage. Should this have been a 10-8 round, it was now an 8-8.
As the fifth round was about to begin, Herb Dean warned Jones of any potential illegal strikes, having taken two points in the last round. Immediately, Smith was looking to put combinations together, successfully stuffing a take down attempt by the champion. Back to their feet, Smith was looking for a big overhand right, but had to keep searching, as it had not hit its mark. ‘Bones’ got Smith back to the cage, controlling his hands and attacking with knee and shoulder strikes. Smith was significantly slower as each round passed, Jones was aware, and continued to soften him up. Another attempt, but no take down for Johnny Jones. Attacking the body, then going high with an elbow, ‘Bones’ seemed to ultimately be looking for the take down. In survival move, it seemed as though Smith was just looking for the fight to be over, as the champion continued to stomp his feet. Jones at this point had landed 82% of his strikes. In one last attempt, he created distance, throwing a flying knee at Smith as the bell sounded. The fight was over, and one can only assume, even with two points taken away, that Jon Jones would remain the light heavyweight champion, dominating the fight, as Kamaru Usman did to Tyron Woodley in the co-main event.
In the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan following his win, Jones first asked Rogan if his first name was really Joseph. It is, Joe said. Jon then acknowledged the toughness of ‘Lion Heart’, saying it was an honor fighting him, happy there wasn’t any s*** talking in the lead up.
Jon ‘Bones’ Jones chose not to call out anyone post-fight, looking to sit back and enjoy the victory. He said he owes his victory to his team.
Anthony Smith wanted the win, but not by DQ, as he may have had the opportunity following the illegal knee in the fourth round. Leading up to the fight, ‘Lion Heart’ said he couldn’t let Jon Jones fight the way Jon Jones fights, but in doing just that, he accept the defeat, having gone a full five rounds with arguably the greatest fighter of all time.
Jon Jones def. Anthony Smith via unanimous decision (48-44, 48-44, 48-44)