In the second part of our look back at Jon Jones’ UFC career, we cover 2014 to the present, as the light heavyweight king continues to beat all comers. This Saturday, Jones will make his first start of 2020 when he faces Dominick Reyes in the main event of UFC 247 in Houston. But first, here’s how we saw some of his biggest fights.
After his grueling win over Alexander Gustafsson last September, some wondered whether UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones would be willing to fight in the trenches with a qualified challenger who had every intention of taking his title from him. Saturday night at the Baltimore Arena, Jones proved that he was not only willing to fight like that, but that he was better than ever in those trenches, winning a lopsided five round unanimous decision over Glover Teixeira to retain his crown for the seventh time.
All three judges saw it 50-45 for Jones, who said of his performance, “it was all improv.”
Jones opened the fight with kicks, Teixeira swinging with punches upstairs. Jones’ first takedown attempt was defended well, and Teixeira kept moving forward, doing whatever he could to keep his hands in the champion’s face. Jones mixed things up nicely with his striking, but nothing significant landed. With less than two minutes, left, Jones caught a Teixeira kick and put the challenger on the mat, but the Brazilian rose immediately and got back in the pocket, hoping to land the punch that would change his fortunes forever.
Teixeira sprawled out of Jones’ early second round takedown attempt, proceeding to stalk the New Yorker around the Octagon. Jones’ countered Teixeira’s rushes well, and his defense was solid as well. There was a brief halt to the action as Jones was warned by referee Dan Miragliotta for an eye poke, and Teixeira had his best sequence of the fight shortly after, as he caught Jones with some hard hooks against the fence. Jones fired back a few moments later with a series of elbows, and he was frustrating the challenger by putting his hand on his forehead, distracting him from the task at hand.
By round three, Jones appeared to be almost toying with Teixeira, firing off punches and kicks and even knocking his opponent’s mouthpiece out with an uppercut. Teixeira wouldn’t let Jones get an ensuing takedown attempt, and at close range against the fence, the Rio de Janeiro native again had momentary success. But Jones quickly regained control, cutting Teixeira above the right eye and doing some excellent infighting in the process.
The Jones clinic continued in the fourth, with a stiff jab sending Teixeira’s mouthpiece flying this time. The Brazilian’s cut also worsened, as the 26-year-old champion simply picked apart the game Teixeira, who saw things go from bad to worse in the closing seconds as he was put on his back by Jones just before the bell.
With five minutes to go, Jones opened with a quick takedown, Teixeira rising just as fast. The two proceeded to trade blows at close range, only to see Teixeira’s mouthpiece get dislodged for a third time. And though Teixeira kept pressing, it was to no avail, as Jones avoided trouble and walked away with another victory that improved his record to 20-1.
The 34-year-old Teixeira, who saw a 20 fight winning streak snapped, fell to 23-3.
Some may not like UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, others may paint him as the “bad guy,” but there is no denying how good, or even great, he is, as evidenced again on Saturday night, as he settled his score with heated rival Daniel Cormier by way of unanimous decision in a grueling UFC 182 main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
That doesn’t mean emotions still aren’t running high, at least as far as the champion is concerned.
“He’s only human,” a heated Jones said at the culmination of a feud that had gone on for months. “All the crap he talked, it motivated me. Sorry I’m being classless right now, I don’t like DC.”
“I just couldn’t find my rhythm tonight," Cormier said. "Jon is the best for a reason and he was the better man tonight.”
Scores were 49-46 across the board for the 27-year-old Jones, 21-1, who made his eighth successful title defense. The Jones loss was the first for former Olympic wrestler Cormier, 35, who falls to 15-1.
Jones opened with several close range kicks as Cormier tried and failed to get the fight to the mat. A body kick by Cormier was then caught by Jones and turned into a takedown. Cormier got to his feet and continued stalking. Jones attempted another takedown but was turned away, drawing a roar from the crowd, which proceeded to chant “DC, DC.” With just under three minutes left, Jones jarred Cormier briefly with a couple punches upstairs, but the Louisiana native got right back to work and tried to jab his way in. Jones was on target with his strikes though, showing some of his best accuracy to date, especially with body punches. Cormier ultimately got the last word with a hard uppercut just before round’s end.
UFC 247: Order The Event | Reclaim The Throne – Jon Jones | UFC's Best Moments In Houston | Jones’ Essential Early Years | Jonathan Martinez | Reyes Moments | Shevchenko Moments | Chookagian Moments | Top Reyes Finishes | Free Fight: Jones vs Gustafsson 2 |On The Rise |Justin Tafa | Jon Jones’ Title Defenses
The champion’s body work continued in round two, as he slammed a kick into Cormier’s midsection. Cormier took the shot well, but a subsequent takedown attempt came up short. In the second minute, the two locked up against the fence, Cormier briefly trying a guillotine choke before separating. Cormier, bleeding from the nose, then went on the offensive, forcing Jones into a clinch. Both fighters got off hard strikes at close range, Cormier slightly busier as the bout began to turn into a grueling battle in the trenches.
Jones went back to his kicking game to start the third, utilizing his height and reach advantage to its fullest. Cormier was able to close the distance and get off his punches on the inside, with each flurry drawing a roar from the crowd. The action was halted briefly after a poke in the eye by Jones 90 seconds in, and when it resumed, the two traded takedown attempts, both coming up short before the two went into the clinch again, jockeying for position while firing off short blows. After breaking, Jones got off some long-range shots, but Cormier was back in the champion’s chest soon enough. Jones kept scoring until Cormier rallied late, making it another hellish round for the judges to score.
After some hard kicks in the opening moments of the fourth round, Jones dumped Cormier on the mat twice, the second time working for a choke briefly until “DC” rose to his feet. Jones kept the challenger pinned to the fence, sporadically finding making enough room to fire off punches. With under two minutes to go, Cormier got free and tried to get the points he lost back, but Jones wasn’t having it, and he was able to smother his foe’s offense enough to secure his best round of the fight.
Cormier came out fast for the final round, yet his inability to take Jones down resulted in another clinch against the fence that was controlled by Jones. Finally after a long period of grappling against the fence, Cormier got his takedown, slamming Jones emphatically to the mat. Jones got up immediately, avoiding another takedown just before the final horn.
For the first time since March 19, 2011, Jon Jones entered the Octagon without a championship belt, and while he left it with one Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas after a shutout five-round decision win over Ovince Saint Preux in the main event of UFC 197, he wasn’t content with his interim UFC light heavyweight championship.
“I don’t think I want that belt, it’s not the real belt,” Jones, who was stripped of the title now held by Daniel Cormier in 2015 due to legal issues, said “I want my actual belt back.”
He will get his chance to take it back when he meets Cormier in a bout that was supposed to take place at UFC 197 before the champion was forced to withdraw due to injury. And while he wasn’t vintage Jones, after being out of the Octagon for more than a year, he was more than good enough to win.
“It definitely took me a while to pull the trigger tonight and I felt like I used 20 percent of the technique I actually know,” Jones said.
Scores were 50-44 and 50-45 twice.
The first bout between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson in 2013 was a five-round war. The second time around at The Forum in Inglewood, Jones left no questions, halting Gustafsson in the third round to regain the UFC light heavyweight title relinquished by heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.
“This is a great feeling,” said Jones, who took back the title he lost after failing a drug test following his rematch with Cormier. What resulted was a suspension that kept the New Yorker out of action for 16 months. But in his return, “Bones” proved that he hasn’t lost a step in scoring a decisive win over the fighter who gave him his toughest test to date.
The first round was largely a war of nerves between the two rivals, Jones holding the edge behind some hard strikes that came at a sporadic pace but nonetheless hit the mark. Gustafsson was able to avoid Jones’ takedown attempts, but he wasn’t busy enough to give the former champion any grief.
Gustafsson got a little busier in the second round, but any aggression was met by hard counters from Jones, including a series of effective kicks to the body and leg.
Jones got his first takedown early in round three, and he immediately started unloading elbows from the top position. Soon, Jones took Gustafsson’s back, and after a series of unanswered blows, referee Mike Beltran had seen enough, halting the bout at 2:02 of the third stanza.
UFC light heavyweight Jon Jones was in control from start to finish in his UFC 235 main event against Anthony Smith at T-Mobile Arena, and while Jones admitted it wasn’t his best effort, it was more than enough for him to retain his title and extend his unbeaten streak to 16.
Scores were 48-44 across the board.
The fighters stood perilously close to each other in the opening round, Smith doing a lot of feinting while looking for an opening while Jones fired off kicks from all angles. But it was a head kick by Smith that got Jones’ attention and prompted some clinch work by the champion, but the two broke fairly quickly. Back at range, it was Jones again controlling the fight with his kicks until the round ended.
Jones stunned Smith with a front kick early in round two, and he kept the kicks coming, followed by an elbow and a clinch to cap off the first minute. Back at range, Smith landed a good overhand right, but Jones was unmoved as he got back down to business, punctuating more kicks with a left hand down the middle.
Opting to work more on his grappling in the third, Jones continued to control the action, with a big takedown punctuating another big round.
Jones fired off elbows in the fourth, continuing to vary his attack to keep Smith guessing. Another takedown followed, and Jones’ ground assault intensified on the bloodied challenger. With two minutes left, Smith got back to his feet, but only momentarily. In the midst of the one-sided bout, there was a little drama when Jones landed an illegal knee to the head of the downed challenger, prompting referee Herb Dean to dock Jones two points.
Cleared to continue, Smith knew he needed a finish in the fifth round to win, and while his spirit was willing, fatigue quickly set in and Jones went back to his dominant clinch work. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was effective, and Jones had the first defense of his second title reign in the books.
On to the next.
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was pushed to the limit in the UFC 239 main event Saturday night, but he still escaped T-Mobile Arena with his belt intact, as he took a razor-thin split decision over Brazil’s Thiago Santos.
“Oh my goodness,” said Jones. “Boy, was he tough. His best chance was to win by knockout, I played it smart.”
Scores were 48-47 twice and 47-48 for Jones, now 25-1 with 1 NC. The No. 2-ranked Santos falls to 21-7.
Santos knocked Jones off balance with an early leg kick, drawing a reaction from the crowd and more kicks in response from the champion. Santos was busy with his strikes, busier than most Jones’ opponents, but the New Yorker kept his cool as he moved forward. With less than two minutes to go, Jones got his mouthpiece knocked out, but he was unhurt. Santos didn’t care, though, as he kept firing bombs at Jones until the horn sounded.
Early in round two, Santos appeared to hurt himself while landing a kick to Jones’ leg, but he apparently recovered quickly. Jones kept the pressure on, but he wasn’t producing much offensively, as it was Santos who kept throwing. Midway through the round, a Jones kick landed as Santos stumbled to the mat, again bringing up the possibility that the Brazilian’s left leg was injured. That didn’t stop the offense of “Marreta” who was throwing each punch and kick with fight-ending intentions.
Jones picked up his pace in the third round, but Santos was still letting bombs go, remaining dangerous. In the second minute, Jones went high with a flying knee and wound up hitting the deck himself, but Santos wasn’t able to capitalize. Soon, Santos was cut and Jones was bringing the heat for his best round of the fight thus far.
Santos went on the attack to begin round four, but Jones weathered the storm and reset himself at range. There were still momentary stumbles from Santos on his left leg, but he was still throwing it. Jones began attacking the right leg, and it was affecting Santos, whose output was dropping. And while Jones wasn’t setting the world on fire with his own offense, he was landing enough to keep the challenger at bay.
With five minutes remaining, Santos was back to throwing hard, and while Jones was unmoved, the Brazilian was scoring in a pivotal final round. Santos’ leg was visibly giving him more issues as the time ticked away, and