LAS VEGAS – He didn’t get the finish he would have liked, but Jon Jones was absolutely dominant in a five-round win over Anthony Smith.
The light heavyweight title bout was the main event of Saturday’s UFC 235 show at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and UFC Fight Pass.
The two fighters set up at close range to start, with Smith (31-14 MMA, 7-4 UFC) landing a kick to the thigh to open. Jones (24-1 MMA, 18-1 UFC) switched stances and teased a few strikes, but it was Smith who again kicked at the thigh. Jones whiffed on a few big power punches, but a kick of his own touched the body.
Smith kept his focus largely on the legs, and he had to slip a quick front kick aimed at his head. Jones again cracked the ribs with a spinning kick, and he seemed ready to turn up the pressure. When he caught a Smith high kick, he nearly dumped his opponent to the floor but instead was able to press him to the cage. Jones landed a few shoulder strikes there but was ultimately forced to pull away from the stalemate.
A Jones side kick briefly pushed Smith back in the final minute, and the round ended on the feet.
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Smith came out aggressively in the second, but Jones unleashed a barrage of kicks that kept him at bay. A quick Jones front kick glanced off the chin and seemed to stun Smith, who tried to shake it off. Jones followed with a spinning elbow shortly after, moving into the clinch and again driving in a few shoulder strikes. Still, Smith battled for position inside, and Jones did back away.
Smith fired a few overhand rights on the restart, looking to press the action, but Jones was able to push him away and resume his non-stop kicking attacks. A big right hand sneaked through, as well, and Smith willingly backed to the cage, but Jones stayed in the center. When Smith returned, he was immediately greeted with more kicks.
Jones continued chipping at the legs and body with kicks in the final minute, and a big right hand dug at the ribs, as well. Jones moved to the clinch just before the bell, but he was unable to bring the fight to the floor.
Jones landed a big right to start the third, and Smith simply couldn’t get to the range he wanted. Jones drived forward for a takedown, and Smith again proved difficult to drag to the floor. Still, Jones was incredibly comfortable as he moved into the clinch, briefly trying to wrap the body and lift his opponent, though the action stayed in tight.
Stuck against the cage, Smith struggled to offer any real counters. Jones controlled the position and dropped a few knees to the thighs, holding the wrists and looking for option. Eventually, he was able to lift Smith in the air and slam him to the floor, where he looked to unload his patented attacks. Smith alertly scrambled the moment he hit the canvas, getting to a kneeling position, though Jones controlled the neck from the front and eventually drove in a few knees to the body and legs. Smith avoided any real damage, but he was absolutely stuck against the fence.
Jones missed a leaping knee to start the fourth as the two fighters studied for a bit. Jones scored a big kick to the body and then pushed forward with several big elbows, but Smith covered well against the fence. With Smith moving into a shell, Jones picked out a few punches to the body and then a leaping knee.
Smith eventually wilted to the canvas, and Jones threw a kick that seemed dangerously close to hitting the face. Referee Herb Dean had no call, and Jones stomped the leg before spinning around to the back. A kneeling Smith had blood rushing from his nose to the floor, but he kept himself protected and worked up to his feet. However, Jones was on his back and quickly set him back down on the floor.
Working from the back, Jones unleashed big punches and elbows that found the mark. Big knees drilled the body, as well. Smith worked to a seared position in the final minute, where Jones kneed him in the chest and then scored a few more elbows. Smith tried to rise just before the bell, and as he did, a Jones knee hit him in the head. The cageside doctor was brought in, and while Smith was allowed to continue, Jones was docked two points for the infraction. The action restarted, but the bell sounded before they could engage, and Jones offered an apology before returning to the corner.
Jones ran to the center to start the fifth, and Smith met him there with heavy punches. Jones slipped the efforts and swung back before shooting inside on a takedown that came up short. As they backed to the center, Smith did his best to fire with power, but Jones was clearly the fresher man.
Jones missed an elbow but moved forward into the clinch, again controlling the wrists and looking for options. Smith proved unwilling to go back to the floor. Jones was forced to settle for a few knees to the thigh and shoulder strikes inside, and time slowly ticked off the clock.
Smith briefly pulled free with around two minutes left, but Jones chased him immediately back into the clinch and held him against the cage. Smith proved his durability but simply couldn’t offer any attacks in return, and Jones cruised to a decision win.