Anthony Smith wanted to beat Jon Jones fair and square — that’s why he chose to continue fighting after Jones’ illegal strike.
Smith, who challenged Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 235, could have avoided a loss when Jones landed an illegal knee in the fourth round.
After the foul, “Lionheart” could have said he was unable to continue. In that case, referee Herb Dean would have had to determine whether or not Jones’ illegal shot was intentional or unintentional. Depending on Dean’s determination, the fight could have resulted in anywhere from a disqualification win for Smith to a no contest to a technical draw.
Smith, however, did not take the easy way out — he kept going, and ultimately fell to Jones in a lopsided decision after one more round. Dean took away two points from Jones for the foul, but that did not actually impact the result of the fight. Jones won by 48-44 on all three judges’ scorecards.
“I said at the beginning I wanted to win the title. I know as well as anyone I could’ve sat there and taken the DQ win,” Smith said in his post-fight interview. “But I want to win it, I don’t want to steal it.”
Smith offered limited offense throughout the fight. He seemed to spend most of it trying to figure out Jones and on defense. Jones started beating Smith up badly in the third round and onward.
Against Jones, Smith suffered his first loss at 205 pounds and his three-fight winning streak, which includes wins over Volkan Oezdemir, Mauricio Rua, and Rashad Evans, came to an end.
“Bones” defended the light heavyweight title for the first time since a January 2015 win over Daniel Cormier. Jones won back the title in a TKO of Alexander Gustafsson last December.
UFC 235 took place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. In the co-feature, Kamaru Usman won the UFC welterweight title with a dominant win over Tyron Woodley.