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UFC 235 Preview: Jon Jones Vs. Anthony Smith – The Stakes

UFC 235’s main-event will see light-heavyweight legend Jon Jones defending his belt against one of the biggest title underdogs in the history of the UFC.

For those who missed our look at the welterweight title showdown between Tyron Woodley and Kamaru Usman yesterday, that piece can be found here.

Anthony Smith in three words: Experienced, Dangerous, Determined

Notable wins: Hector Lombard, Rashad Evans, Shogun Rua, Volkan Oezdemir

Highest high: Finishing Volkan Oezdemir in perhaps the first elite test of his skills in October was the most significant win of his career to date – the fight that earned him his shot at eternal glory. He could well outdo that by some margin if he can pull off the unthinkable on Saturday.

Lowest low: His original one-fight run in the UFC started and ended back in 2013 with a first-round submission loss to Antonio Braga Neto in Fortaleza – a loss that, in hindsight, was a necessary one for the trajectory of Lionheart’s career but even still, a low-point it remains.

Recent form: Smith has been impressive since making the move up to 205lbs after a sketchy time as a middleweight but let’s be honest, he has made this title-shot off the back of wins over battle-worn veterans like Rashad Evans and Shogun Rua – and a competitive scrap with Volkan Oezdemir – a guy who time has proven to be very limited.

Jon Jones in three words: Technical, Consistent, Flawless

Notable wins: Ryan Bader, Shogun Rua, Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort, Alexander Gustafsson, Daniel Cormier, Glover Teixeira, Chael Sonnen.

Highest high: If it weren’t for the intervention of USADA and the fight’s present billing as a ‘no-contest’, I’d be pointing to his UFC 214 third-round TKO victory over Daniel Cormier but now, with that being the case, I’m going to highlight his UFC 232 domination of Alexander Gustafsson. After edging him out in one of the most electric title-fights in the history of the sport, Jon’s ability to completely shut him down in the rematch was nothing short of astonishing. It was a title-winning performance worthy of the legend behind the man.

Lowest low: Considering that he is practically unbeaten, it won’t come as a surprise when I point to his issues outside of the cage as a low-point. So long as all goes to plan this week and he makes the walk to the octagon, though, these problems are not exactly relevant.

Recent form: Jones could well have returned from his lengthy absence from competition in even better form than before. Comprehensive victories over Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson showcased a version of ‘Bones’ who was very much still improving. A scary, scary thought.

What’s at stake?: The gulf to be found between the stakes in this fight could not be any further. As perhaps the biggest underdog to ever challenge Jones for his throne, Smith’s name would be permanently written into the MMA history books if he can pull off the win. For Jones, a win wouldn’t exactly further his argument at G.O.A.T status any further than it stands right now but a loss would no doubt be devastating.

Winner’s prize: You’d have to assume that Jones is planning on making a high-profile call-out if he does what many are expecting him to on Saturday. Whether it’s DC, Lesnar, or anyone – a win for him opens many doors that would be closed-off to Smith if he were to win. For Lionheart, a rematch with Jones would be an absolute certainty.

Loser’s prize: Again, Jones would definitely be granted an immediate rematch against Smith if he lost. In the likely event that he doesn’t, Smith vs. Alexander Gustafsson would be a fun fight that could well establish the divisional top-dog when Jones inevitably leaves 205lbs.

luke rockhold anthony smith

For those who missed our look at the welterweight title showdown between Tyron Woodley and Kamaru Usman yesterday, that piece can be found here.

Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena

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Author: Cillian Cunningham

Lead mixed martial arts writer who can be contacted at [email protected]