We almost got through a whole Jon Jones fight week without any sort of controversy.
There were no drug-test fiascos, no fight venues changed at the last minute, no heated rivalries, or any of the usual histrionics that come with the UFC light heavyweight champion’s fight week when he defended his title against Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC 235.
Then came the fourth round, and an illegal knee to the head that led to a rare deduction of two points on the champion.
That, while providing the requisite controversy, simply made the bout sound closer than it was. Jones showed off most of his arsenal in what seemed more like a sparring session than a title fight and cruised to victory against an undeniably tough competitor at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The judges’ scores were 48-44 across the board for a unanimous decision.
“Now I see why they call him “Lionheart,’” Jones said. “I have never had anyone talking to me while I was hitting him. This guy is so durable, he’s like The Terminator.”
The stage was set early on, as Jones started throwing kicks off all sorts, both of the spinning and the conventional variety, landing all over Smith’s body. Smith, for his part, just missed with a head kick, but that was the closest he came to making the champ sweat.
In the second, Smith landed an overhand right which cut Jones over his right eye, but that was the extent of his highlights, as Jones again landed at well, mixing in spinning elbows and shoulder shivers as Smith never got his offense untracked.
The third round Saw Jones dominate Smith in the clinch, landing brutal body shots and shoulder shivers as they grappled along the fence.
Jones was in the process of laying out a beatdown that would have stopped competitors less tough than Smith when the knee to the head of Smith, who had a hand on the mat and was thus downed, was landed.
Referee Herb Dean watched a replay. Smith could have gotten a disqualification call and the title if he claimed to be too hurt to continue, but took the honorable route and continued the fight. Dean then deducted two points.
“I wanted to win the title, I know as well as anyone I could have sat their and taken the DQ, but I wanted to win the title, not steal it,” Smith said.
The fifth round was academic, as the tough Smith hung in there and went the distance, but also never did anything to put Jones on the defensive.
With the victory, Jones is now 24-1 (1 NC), has won 15 in a row. It was his eighth career decision victory.
“Tonight sure was a real learning lesson,” Jones said. “I felt like Randy Couture. It was a different part of my game, but I thought it was necessary.”
The veteran Smith (31-14), had a three-fight win streak snapped and lost for the first time since going up to light heavyweight.