LAS VEGAS – Jon Jones (24-1, 1NC) was vintage in his return fight in Las Vegas at UFC 235 after almost three years away from the bright lights of Sin City. The UFC light heavyweight champion was dominant against #3 ranked challenger Anthony Smith (31-14) en route to a unanimous decision win.
Jones picked Smith apart from the opening round and showcased his full offensive arsenal of roundhouse kicks, spinning elbows and combinations. Smith, who was the heavy underdog coming in, simply wasn’t able to get any momentum going and looked confused and hesitant to the point of resignation while simply taking the beating Jones was handing him.
Despite manhandling Smith, Jones did have a scary moment in the final seconds of the fourth round when he landed an illegal knee to the face while Smith’s hand was touching the canvas. Referee Herb Dean deducted two points from Jones for breaking the old grounded fighter rule, but allowed the fight to proceed after Smith showed he was able to continue on after the hit. Had Smith not been able to do so, Jones could’ve blown the fight via disqualification, similar to the one he dropped against Matt Hamill years ago early in his UFC career due to illegal elbows.
Rightfully so, Jones commended Smith’s courage and durability after the fight. “Hats off to Anthony Smith, I know why they call him Lion Heart. I have never had someone talk to me while I’m hitting them, it was amazing, this guy is so durable, he’s like the terminator,” said Jones.
In the night’s co-main event, Kamaru Usman (15-1-0) became the first Nigerian UFC champion after dethroning the defending welterweight king Tyron Woodley (19-4-1) in an explosive unanimous decision win.
Usman landed a vicious left elbow that opened up a cut above Woodley’s right eye in the second round. Towards the final minute of the fourth round, Usman almost dropped Woodley with an overhand right followed by combinations that rocked and backed “The Chosen One” against the cage. Woodley managed to land a knee of his own, but simply did not have enough gas left to turn the tide. Usman spent most of the fifth round on top of a tired and beaten Woodley who was simply holding on as he took more pounding from the determined challenger.