LAS VEGAS — Jon Jones was more than good enough Saturday to defeat Anthony Smith and retain his UFC light heavyweight championship at T-Mobile Arena by claiming a unanimous decision in the main event of UFC 235.
By far, it wasn’t Jones’ best performance, and he lost two points in the fourth round when referee Herb Dean deducted them from him for an illegal knee to the head of a downed opponent.
But Smith showed little other than toughness, prompting Jones to say, “I see why they call him ‘Lionheart.’”
All three judges scored it 48-44 for Jones. Yahoo Sports had it 48-45 for Jones.
Jones tore Smith apart with kicks early in the fight, but abandoned the kicks for much of the final two rounds as he attempted to wrestle and grapple more.
“This MMA thing is really hard,” Jones said. “Some days, you look amazing and some days you don’t perform to the level you hold himself up to.”
But if it were a less-than-stellar effort, it was still a one-sided beatdown and showed Jones’ greatness.
Smith continued after the illegal knee and said he didn’t want to win by disqualification. But other than a straight right that opened a small cut outside Jones’ eye, Smith didn’t have much offense as he was spending most of his time trying to keep the champion off of him.
Jones raved about Smith’s toughness, and said Smith was talking to him as he was landing punches. Smith said Jones performed as expected.
The future for Jones is unclear, because he could move up to heavyweight to face Daniel Cormier for the title.
More UFC 235 coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Fight-by-fight recap of every UFC 235 matchup
• Kamaru Usman dethrones Tyron Woodley in dominating fashion
• Ben Askren survives vicious slam to win Octagon debut
• Johnny Walker injures shoulder during post-fight celebration