Jon Jones Beats Anthony Smith by Decision to Retain Title at UFC 235

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2019

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 02: Jon Jones punches Anthony Smith in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 235 event at T-Mobile Arena on March 2, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Jon Jones once again asserted himself as the king of the light heavyweights with a unanimous-decision win over Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC 235 from Las Vegas on Saturday.

While Bones couldn't get the finish, it was still an example of his usual dominance over the light heavyweight division.

UFC @ufc

Spinning back kick lands early in round 1 by @JonnyBones #UFC235 https://t.co/8I3oH5JaoT

The two got off to a slow start in the first round. Smith landed a glancing head kick, while Jones chipped away with an array of body and leg kicks, but not much of consequence happened in a mundane opening frame.

The second round saw a much more assertive version of Bones. He opened up with his boxing in conjunction with his leg kicks to start piling on the damage. It was a clear round for Jones.

Brett Okamoto @bokamotoESPN

Anthony Smith's legs and body have taken a beating. Digging kicks, one after another. He's hiding it as best as he can, but Jones has done real damage to him through two rounds.

Smith did, however, stand his ground in the second frame. He was finally able to land something that damaged the champion, opening up a cut with a nice right hand.

UFC @ufc

The champ is cut! @LionheartASmith lands a right hand that cuts Jones! #UFC235 https://t.co/oULJtwfAQr

That punch wasn't able to turn any actual momentum, though. The third round sank deeper into Jones' territory. He wore down the challenger with his clinch game against the cage before finally scoring a slam takedown and simply draining Smith with his body weight the rest of the round.

UFC @ufc

Violent takedown from @JonnyBones! #UFC235 https://t.co/UGE28GYsGB

The only thing of note in the fourth round—other than more dominance from Jones—came when Bones landed a flush knee to a downed Smith's head. Fortunately, Lionheart was able to continue the fight, and Jones was deducted two points with no disqualification.

Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani

Jones just landed an illegal knee. Herb Dean takes two points. This could have been disastrous for Jones if Smith said he couldn’t continue but he is choosing to continue.

The title defense is officially the first of Jones' third run with the light heavyweight championship. After having the title stripped, he won it back in December when he defeated former rival Alexander Gustafsson.

Smith is now just another name on the long list of those who have come for Bones' title and missed. That list includes several former champions and future Hall of Famers, as the champion's resume only continues to grow.

With so much dominance in the light heavyweight division and a record that only includes one fluky loss by disqualification, the question continues to be in what ways Jones can truly be challenged. One common answer to that question is for the massive light heavyweight to try his hand as a heavyweight, but that's something the UFC is going to have to compensate him to do handsomely.

"If the fans want to see it [at heavyweight] bad enough, the UFC will make it happen for me financially," Jones said of a potential fight with rival Daniel Cormier, per Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times. "If they don't, it will always be something that's coulda-shoulda-woulda. Sending me against one of the best fighters ever, and making me sacrifice being smaller than him, they have to make it make sense financially."

If Jones continues to fight at light heavyweight, the options are uninspiring at best. He's already beaten most of the viable contenders, and those he hasn't simply haven't become compelling options. It's a division dried out from years of Jones' dominance when he's been in the cage.

It's a division that Jones should continue to reign over as long as he chooses to and is eligible to fight in the Octagon.