UFC 235: Jon Jones retains light heavyweight belt
LAS VEGAS — Jon Jones defended his light heavyweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Anthony Smith at UFC 235 on Saturday night, overcoming a two-point deduction for an illegal knee to Smith’s head in the fourth round.
Kamaru Usman claimed the UFC welterweight title in the penultimate bout at T-Mobile Arena, dominating Tyron Woodley in a one-sided unanimous decision victory.
Ben Askren, Woodley’s close friend and training partner, survived an opening-minute beating and rallied to choke out Robbie Lawler midway through the first round of his own UFC debut.
Jones (24-1) had little trouble in an expert display of his all-around brilliance against the overmatched Smith (31-14), who had no answers for the likely pound-for-pound champion of mixed martial arts.
Jones dominated on his feet, against the cage and on the ground until he got in trouble in the fourth round when his knee struck Smith’s head while the challenger was in a downed position. Referee Herb Dean deducted two points from Jones, who apologized to Smith after the bell.
“This MMA thing is really hard,” Jones said. “Some days you’re going to look amazing, and some days at work you’re not going to perform at the level you hold yourself to.”
Jones finished uneventfully and remained unbeaten since 2009, winning a decision for the fifth time in his last seven fights.
Jones won 48-44 on all three scorecards.
Jones has been the UFC’s 205-pound champ for long stretches of the past eight years, but also has been stripped of his belt twice. After doping suspensions and other woes limited Jones to just two fights in a nearly four-year stretch of his prime, he returned to the cage at UFC 235 just nine weeks after beating Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 last December to reclaim his belt.
Smith, a tough veteran fighter from Texas, got a title shot when Jones decided to make a quick return to the cage. Although Smith had won three consecutive fights, he was a heavy underdog at the Vegas sports books, but Jones emerged with respect for Smith’s fighting spirit.
“I have never had anyone talk to me while I’m hitting them,” Jones said. ”(Smith was) saying like, ‘That was nice,’ or, ‘Was that all you’ve got?’”
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