All three judges scored the five-round bout 48-44 for Jones, who, prior to launching his pro MMA career, won a New York high school wrestling championship as well as a NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) title at Iowa Central Community College.
“If there is such a thing as a casual UFC title defense, Jon Jones’ victory over Anthony Smith was it,” according to ESPN.com, describing the fight as “tepid.”
“Jon Jones made it look easy against Anthony Smith in the UFC 235 main event Saturday night, but he nearly lost his light heavyweight title in the process,” is how Sherdog.com summed up the bout.
“A Jones elbow busted up Smith’s nose in the fourth, but that was also the stanza in which Jones nearly lost his title,” Sherdog continued. “Jones was pouring on the attrition with Smith on the canvas, but when “Lionheart” was down on one knee, Jones landed a knee to the head. Referee Herb Dean intervened, watched the replay and swiftly took two points from the champ. With Jones avoiding a disqualification, he coasted down the stretch and won a lopsided unanimous decision.”
Jones holds onto the light-heavy UFC belt with a 24-1 overall record, while Smith drops to 31-14.
Usman wrests welterweight title from Woodley
In a battle of former college wrestlers, Kamaru Usman left the Octagon with the welterweight (170-pound) belt, having earned a unanimous decision over Tyron Woodley in their five-round title bout at UFC 235.
Usman, a 2010 NCAA Division II wrestling champ and three-time All-American for University of Nebraska-Kearney, defeated Woodley, a two-time NCAA Division I All-American at University of Missouri by the score of 50-44, 50-44 and 50-45.
“The UFC and many within the MMA media were touting Tyron Woodley as the greatest welterweight the promotion ever saw,” Sherdog.com asserted. “Kamaru Usman made sure that narrative ended on Saturday night as he dominated Woodley from pillar to post in the UFC 235 co-main event.”
“‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ did whatever he wanted in what was the biggest fight of his career,” Sherdog continued. “He controlled the pace of the bout, landed timely punches and mauled the champ on the ground.”
Yahoo Sports described the fight as “not even remotely competitive. Usman repeatedly took the one-time Missouri wrestling star down and held him, as Woodley could generate no offense.”
With the win, Usman gains a shiny title belt and a 15-1 pro MMA record, while Woodley is now 19-4-1 in his MMA career.
Askren makes UFC debut with controversial submission
Ben Askren, who had been lobbying for a decade for the opportunity to fight in the UFC, finally realized his dream, securing a technical submission of Robbie Lawler at 3:20 of the first round… but not without some controversy.
MMAmania.com describe the welterweight bout featuring the UFC debut of the two-time NCAA champ for Missouri as a “simultaneously amazing and disappointing fight between former welterweight champ Robbie Lawler and new UFC arrival Ben Askren. Lawler mauled Askren for the first two minutes of the bout, only to end up in a bulldog choke that prompted the referee to step in and stop the fight, thinking ‘Ruthless’ was unconscious.”
“Lawler nearly authored a quick finish, as he answered a clinch from the four-time NCAA All-American wrestler with a powerful slam, swooped into top position and cut loose with devastating punches and elbows, one of which opened a cut,” according to Sherdog. “Even so, Askren survived, staggered to his feet and slowly recovered. He closed the distance yet again, tripped Lawler to the canvas and advanced to the back before threatening with a rear-naked choke. Askren transitioned to the bulldog choke when ‘Ruthless Robbie’ attempted to scramble free. Lawler’s arm appeared to go limp for a brief moment, prompting referee Herb Dean to intervene. However, the American Top Team star protested immediately once Askren released the choke.”
Even UFC President Dana White weighed in on the side of Lawler, a former high school wrestler from Bettendorf, Iowa.
“Bad stoppage,” White declared at the press conference. “And we had a debate, me, the ref, and the commission, about being choked out. I’ve been choked out many times before, too, and one of the things you don’t do is jump right up and say ‘What the f**k did you just do?’ It just never happens that way. That was a bad stoppage, it happens. What are you gonna do? Sucks. It was a good fight.”
With his winning debut in the Octagon, Askren remains perfect in his pro MMA career (19-0) and in UFC (1-0), while Lawler now sports an overall record of 28-13, (13-7 in UFC).