They went the distance, but Jon “Bones” Jones is another “and still” tonight. The fighter, now 24-1-0, maintained his championship standing against challenger Anthony Smith at UFC 235.
Smith showed tremendous heart and durability, but all 5 rounds were The Jon Jones Show as the champ displayed monster takedowns, big hits, and a touch of the controversy that has made him a UFC top-earner
At Round 3, Smith seemed to clock that his pacing and defense weren’t up to the task of matching, let alone overtaking, Jones. Rocked by that mid-round take down, Smith appeared to make no effort to get back to his feet, letting Jones punish his body with knees, punches, and one smothering arm across the mouth.
But it was Round 4 when things got complicated, when Jones dealt an illegal knee to the head while Smith was downed against the cage. It’s possible that Jones thought Smith was getting ready to stand—which would have made the strike legal—but he still drilled Smith in an already battered head regardless. The fight could have stopped there. Herb Dean went to video review and established that, yes, the strike was illegal, giving Smith the option to stop the fight…and win the belt by default. But Smith shook the question off, saying he was fine and going on to finish another full round of punishment from Jones. (Two points were deducted from Jones for the illegal hit.)
“I’ve never had anyone talk to me while I’m hitting them,” Jones said of Smith post-fight, commenting on how he was unable to finish his opponent. “He’s like the Terminator.”
“You’re a gentleman,” he added, thanking Smith for the lack of trash talk between them in the normally raucous press tour before the fight.
“I could have sat there and taken the DQ win, but I want to win,” Smith said after the match. “I don’t want to steal it.”