The UFC 235: Jones vs Smith card started off with a bang, producing a highlight-reel knockout courtesy of Middleweight Edmen Shahbazyan during the Early Prelims. After Charles Byrd shot for a takedown which Shahbazyan stuffed, Shahbazyan unleashed a fury of ferocious elbows that would eventually send Byrd crashing to the canvas.
The ESPN Prelims wouldn’t disappoint either, with an aging Diego Sanchez turning back the clock to finish a young Mickey Gall. Cody Staman picked up a decision win and Zabit Magomedsharipov bested Jeremy Stephens in an absolute war. However, Lightheavyweight Johnny Walker stole the show with his flying knee knockout of Misha Cirkunov.
Now, follow along live for live round-by-round updates across the entire main card of UFC 235!
Pedro Munhoz Finishes Cody Garbrandt with Highlight Reel Knock Out
Munhoz came out of the gates firing low and going for a leglock on Garbrandt, Garbrandt fairly easily slipped out of it and the fight returned to the feet where the fighters would proceed to feel each other out for the next two minutes.
Munhoz did some serious damage with a couple of leg kicks and caught Garbrandt during a brief exchange. The two tied up again with about a minute left and Garbrandt caught a headbutt, knocking him to the ground. The two wouldn’t be on the ground long, getting up off the mat after only a few seconds. After they got back to their feet, the two fighters squared up and unleashed some of the hardest wild shots they could throw.
Munhoz ate a ton of heavy shots and looked to be on the ropes before he eventually dropped Garbrandt with a vicious ducking overhand right hand. The shot sent Garbrandt crumbling to the canvas and the fight was stopped with less than a minute left in the first round.
An incredibly exciting fight, the result sets up some interesting scenarios in the Men’s Bantamweight division. The win propels Munhoz up the top 10 and potentially into the conversation for a title shot, while former champion Cody Garbrandt is left sitting on his third consecutive loss.
Weili Zhang Bests Tecia Torres in 3 Round War
The fight started off pretty uneventful, with both fighters feeling each other out for the first few minutes, occassionally exchanging small flurries that didn’t do damage.
Zhang would land a nice hip throw and take Torres to the ground, but Torres showed off her well-rounded game and UFC experience by easily rolling Zhang over and standing back up. After another minute, Zhang fired for another takedown and got stuffed before forcing Torres up against the fence.
In the scramble, somehow Zhang climbed onto the back of a standing Torres and tried to fight her arm under Torres’ chin. Torres eventually escaped and caught Zhang with a big shot.
Torres would go on to land a takedown of her own and Zhang would return the favor by immediately rolling her over to end the first round. A very close round to call as neither fighter inflicted significant damage, but both were very active at the end of the round.
Another relatively slow start to the round. Both fighters are starting to mix in more head kicks. Zhang is the slightly more active fighter so far, but Torres has landed slightly heavier shots.
Both fighters are starting to occasionally land some big shots, but neither has been able to do so consistently.
With about 1:45 the fighters finally engaged and the fight got sloppy and wound up with the fighters fighting for position against the cage. Zhang would land another nice takedown and do some damage on top, but Torres executed a high-level jiu-jitsu maneuver and reversed position ending up in Zhang’s guard.
Torres would go on to land some solid shots at the end of the round from Zhang’s guard. With her late reversal and damage done, Torres made a solid case to steal back the round and heading into the third, this is anyone’s fight to win.
Different from the first two rounds, the two fighters jumped into the mix early and exchanged some heavy shots. Both fighters did some damage and disengaged after the flurry of big shots.
Zhang scored another takedown with 2:30 left and did some damage before trying to fight through Torres’ guard. Zhang slipped into half guard and established a dominant position while occasionally landing some minor shots. Zhang would finish the fight in Torres’ half guard and Torres was mostly ineffective the last half of the round.
Zhang would go on to win via unanimous decision and established herself as one of the UFC’s premier prospects moving forward.
Ben Askren Wins With A Controversial Submission Over Robbie Lawler
Askren Immediately goes for a takedown and the fight turns into a scramble on the feet. Lawler then slammed Askren to the ground and landed some monster shots that nearly ended the fight 30 seconds in.
The fight goes back to the feet a minute and a half in and Askren is visibly wobbled and covered in blood. Despite being on wobbled legs, Askren is effectively pressuring Lawler against the cage and giving himself time to recover from the power shots.
Askren somehow got Lawler down to the ground and caught him in a bulldog choke that wasn’t fully locked in. Lawler wasn’t unconscious or going to be put to sleep, but referee Herb Dean decided to call the fight as he was unable to tell if Lawler had gone unconscious or not (and incorrectly assumed he had).
Definitely an ugly start for the drama lightning-rod that is Ben Askren. Robbie Lawler is a fan favorite UFC fighter and while Askren was undoubtedly cranking Lawler’s neck, Lawler was still awake and fighting the choke when Herb Dean stepped in to stop the fight. In the post-fight interview, Askren said Dean asked Lawler if he was okay during the choke – to which he didn’t respond. In Lawler’s defense though, it can pretty tough to talk when someone’s arm is cranking your chin.
Kamaru Usman Dominates Tyron Woodley to Win Welterweight Title
Usman bolts out of the gate and immediately puts pressure on Woodley. Usman quickly shot for a takedown, but Woodley caught him in a guillotine choke that he would work on for the next minute. Usman eventually broke out and assumed top control, landing small punches to Woodley’s body.
The fight eventually found its way back to the feet where Usman would continue to stalk the champion and work for takedowns. Woodley is doing a good job of stuffing the takedowns, but Usman is effectively using his length to stay out of striking range from Woodley and is closing distance well.
There wouldn’t be much action for the rest of the round as Usman would go on to continue controlling the fight through the end of the round. The first round undoubtedly goes to the challenger.
Usman lands a huge elbow on the feet and promptly takes Woodley down early and inflicts some heavy damage on Woodley. Usman looks to be the much stronger wrestler compared to Woodley, which is fairly shocking.
With about two minutes to go, this round has entirely consisted of him laying on top of Woodley and raining down heavy blows. Usman eventually moves into a full mount and would work towards an arm triangle that Woodley would eventually escape.
All in all, an incredibly dominant round from the challenger.
Usman once again closes the distance and pushes Woodley to the fence. Usman is showing some excellent dirty boxing and doing some real damage to the body from the clinch. The fight isn’t incredibly exciting so far, but Usman is simply smothering Woodley in the and bullying Woodley around the ring.
By the end of the round, Usman’s body shots were doing noticeable damage to Woodley and he could be seen visibly wincing whenever Usman landed. Woodley did counter with a nice right hand late in the round, the punch didn’t seem to phase Usman.
Through three rounds, Woodley is undoubtedly down three rounds to none with one being arguably a 10-8 round under the new scoring.
Woodley is out hunting for the finish but ends up giving up top position to Usman in a failed choke attempt. At this point, Usman looks content to smother Woodley and pepper him with body shots as Woodley has no answer for the top control of Kamaru Usman.
Halfway through the round, Woodley looks like a defeated man on his back and has no answer for anything that Usman is doing to him on the ground. Referee Mark Goddard decides to stand up the fight despite Usman being active on the ground, but Woodley still can’t find any success.
Usman lands a massive knee on his feet before unloading a ferocious flurry of punches that wobbled Woodley. In his semi-conscious state, Woodley landed a big shot of his own and for a moment both fighters are in trouble. Usman recovered quickly though and continued to land big shots on Woodley who refused to go down.
At the end of the round, both fighters are utterly gassed and Woodley is barely able to stand.
Usman starts the round stalking Woodley and quickly finds himself caught in a standing headlock from Woodley. Woodley is clearly looking for the finish with the choke, but Usman picks him up and slams him to the ground.
Usman assumed his dominant role in top position and continued to land small shots to the body of Woodley from half guard. Usman keeps pressing Woodley against the cage from top position and Woodley looks like a defeated man as he is just unable to get off his back.
The fight ends with Woodley being smothered on his back. Usman picks up the win in an incredibly dominant display of his wrestling.
Jon Jones Bullies Anthony Smith; Retains Lightheavyweight Belt
The fight starts with the two fighters establishing some range before Jones fires and lands a spinning back kick to the body of Clark. Outside of leg kicks early, Clark hasn’t been able to land anything.
Jones lands another spinning kick to the body and seems to be targeting the body early. Smith lands a big head kick and forces Jones to close the distance and pressure Smith up against the cage. For as big as the kick sounded, Jones doesn’t seem to be too rattled by it.
The two fighters move back into the center of the octagon and neither one seems willing to engage the other as the round heads into the final minute. Jones lands a vicious side kick to the stomach of Smith and continues to stay focused on his game plan of wearing down the body of Smith.
Despite Jones most likely winning the round, Smith should be very encouraged with his performance.
Jones is keeping his distance well and stalking Smith around the octagon, repeatedly landing crisp shots. Jones leaps into Smith with an elbow about a minute into the round and pressures him up against the cage.
The two fighters break to the middle of the octagon and Jones looks to be much more in control of this round compared to the first. Smith finally starts going to the body but only using it to set up power shots that are wildly off target.
Jones is landing repeated teep kicks on Smith that are clearly becoming a huge annoyance. Smith is struggling to get past the incredibly long range of Jones as Jones looks to be much more comfortable in round 2.
Jones clearly won that round and is able to seemingly land at will against Smith, who is struggling to get inside on Jones.
Jones has clearly softened up Smith and is just bullying him up against the cage to start off the third round. Through the first half of the round, Smith has been stuck against the cage eating punches and knees to the body.
Jones then picks Smith up off the cage and slams Smith down to the ground with a violent takedown. Smith nearly escapes in the ensuing scramble, but Jones traps Smith in an awkward position where he simply can’t stand up.
Right now, Jones is making Smith look like his little brother and is essentially sitting on top of a helpless Smith and landing shots whenever he sees fit.
Another resounding round for Jones.
Jones continues to target the body and has clearly done some major damage to Smith’s midsection. Jones continues to land big shots on the feet, but Smith has a tough chin and is at least weathering what Jones has thrown at him so far.
Jones lands a nice knee against the cage and subsequently trips Smith to the ground.
Jones then follows Smith to the ground and once again contorts Smith into an awkward turtled up position. Jones starts landing heavy elbows at will while working to take Smith’s back. Smith is covering up and eventually works his way back to his feet before being instantly tripped back down by Jones.
Jones continues his assault on all areas of Smith as he alternates ripping between his body and head from top control. With a minute left in the round, Jones has Smith in the fetal position against the cage and lands some VIOLENT knees to the ribs of Smith.
With ten seconds to go in the round, Jones landed a huge illegal knee to a downed Smith and referee Herb Dean stopped the fight to review the incident. Smith is a tough dude and tells the doctors he is okay, that knee would have decapitated a normal human.
Jones had 2 points deducted for the knee but is likely still well ahead on the scorecards.
Jones and Smith start the round trading punches, but neither does much damage. Smith defends a nice takedown from Jones but is starting to look increasingly fatigued.
Jones pressures Smith against the cage again and continues to work the legs and body of Anthony Smith. Jones is doing an excellent job of controlling Smith’s hands and Smith is unable to mount any sort of counter to Jones’ smothering offense against the cage.
With forty-five seconds to go, Smith is just being bullied up against the cage and looks to just be trying to survive until the bell.
Jones disengages and throws a flying knee as the bell rings to end the fight.
Jones takes home a resounding unanimous 48-44 decision. To his credit, Anthony Smith proved why his nickname is “Lionheart” and despite taking tons of big shots from Jones for the entire 25 minutes, looked to have minimal damage on him and simply would not be put away.
After the win, Jones told Joe Rogan that he didn’t have a particular target in mind for his next fight (probably because there isn’t anyone left in the division for him to beat).
That caps off an incredible night of fights at UFC 235. From thrilling knockouts to controversial finishes, the night had it all. Check back in for UFC 236 on April 13th!