Jon Jones will look to add to his legendary resume on Saturday, as he defends the UFC light heavyweight title against Anthony Smith on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 235 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Jones (23-1) enters the bout as a heavy favorite, as the 31-year-old is coming off of a dominant performance against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 in December.
Jones Plans to Hold On to Light Heavyweight Title
Jones is now a three time light heavyweight title, and his first two title runs ended not because of losses, but because the UFC stripped him of the championship: first because of his involvement in a hit-and-run accident, then due to a failed drug test.
But if that time away from the Octagon took anything away from Jones, it wasn’t obvious in his last fight.
“To get that belt against Alexander Gustafsson and to do it without having to go to the hospital this time or without a black eye, it felt really good,” Jones told the UFC in a pre-fight interview. “I want this forever and I want to do everything in my power to protect it for as long as possible.”
Smith Makes Rapid Rise Up UFC Rankings
Few expect Jones’ title run to end with a loss to Smith (31-13). The 30-year-old American is a very experienced fighter, and is 3-0 since moving up to light heavyweight in 2018. But while wins over Rashad Evans, Mauricio Rua, and Volkan Oezdemir have been enough to turn him into a contender, Jones is at a different level, and there is little in Smith’s career to suggest he will find a way to beat the champion.
But Smith thinks that he has enough in his toolbox to pose problems for Jones, saying that he doesn’t think there are many tricks up the champ’s sleeve.
“If you really sit down and think about it, how many new skills have you seen Jon use in the last five or six years?” Smith asked while speaking to MMA Fighting. “I think he was so far ahead of the curve when he came onto the scene, so far ahead of everybody, that he was this mythical creature, and no one could figure out his style. But if you really watch him fight and see how things have gone, he’s not any better.”
True or not, sportsbooks seem to think that Jones will be too much for Smith to handle. Bovada has listed Jones as a massive -900 favorite, with Smith going off at +550 odds.
Usman Hopes to Become First African UFC Champion
In the co-main event, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (19-3-1) takes on Nigerian sensation Kamaru Usman (14-1), who is rated as the No. 2 contender in the division.
Usman, a powerful wrestler who has dominated most opponents when fights go to the ground, is looking to become the first African UFC champion in history.
“Everyone wants to see Tyron tested, and everyone knows I can do it,” Usman told The Undefeated. “I will push all the right buttons until I break him.”
Woodley comes into UFC 235 having won six of his last seven fights, with a draw against Stephen Thompson the only blemish on his record since 2014. Woodley is known for focusing on countering opponents rather than pushing the action, which could result in a bit of a chess match between him and Usman as the two men look to get to the mat in an advantageous position.
While this is certainly a fight that could go either way, Woodley (-175) has been made a slight favorite over Usman (+145), with Woodley’s ability to go on the offensive as a striker when he needs to likely giving him the advantage.
Other fights on the UFC 235 card include a welterweight clash between Robbie Lawler (+225) and Ben Askren (-285), as well as a women’s strawweight fight that sees Weili Zhang (-145) take on Tecia Torres (+115).