The UFC returns to the United States and its hometown of Las Vegas as UFC 235 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, March 3. The Main Event will see Jon Jones defend his Light Heavyweight Title against Anthony Smith, while the penultimate fight of the card will be for the Welterweight Title between the champion Tyron Woodley and Kamaru Usman. The rest of the card has some relatively evenly matched fights which should make for a good card.
Jon ‘Bones’ Jones has a phenomenal record of 23 wins and 1 loss, but most impressively, no one has ever beaten him while he held the title. On December 29 at UFC 232 he made his return to the octagon after a 17 month suspension. On that night he defeated Alexander Gustafsson to reclaim the Light Heavyweight Title. It was the twelfth straight match where he had either won or defended the title successfully.
Anthony Smith is currently ranked third in the Light Heavyweight division and has won 14 of his last 16 fights, dating back to April 2014. He has won his last three bouts coming into this title match, beating former champions Rashad Evans inside a minute last June and Mauricio Rua a month later inside 90 seconds, both by knockout. His last bout was in October 2018 against the impressive Volkan Oezdemir, where Smith won in the third round with a submission.
Prediction: Jones’ record with the belt is simply too hard to ignore. Both men are the same height and weight, but it’s the vast chasm in arm reach that will be very hard for Smith to overcome. Jones’ reach is some 8 inches more than Smith’s. Given Jones is a powerful striker, having won 8 of his fights via punches alone, and has a significant reach advantage, Smith needs to be at his best if he is to get close to use his own striking power and submission moves to win here. Jones by TKO in the 3rd Round.
Current champion Woodley first won the Welterweight strap back in July 2016 at UFC 201, where he knocked out then Champion Robbie Lawler in the first round. He then had a draw with Stephen Thompson and the rematch went the distance again, but with Woodley scoring a points decision victory. His third title defence against Demian Maia also went the distance, but Woodley retained via unanimous decision. In September 2018 he was awarded performance of the night as he defended his title once again, defeating Darren Till via submission late in the second round.
The number one contender for the Welterweight title is Kamaru Usman, a powerful striker and very sound grappler. He is on a current streak of 13 wins dating back to December 2013. His last two fights, against former Light Heavyweight champion Rafael dos Anjos and, former number one contender for both the Middleweight and Welterweight titles, Demian Maia, both went the distance with Usman winning both times by unanimous decision. 7 of his last 8 fights have been won this way.
Prediction: The Champion will be the favourite here, but he will not have an easy time. Usman can go the distance and has a slight advantage with his reach, which works to his strengths. Both men are predominantly strikers, however Woodley’s raw speed and precision means he will be able to negate Usman’s reach advantage. Both are great defenders which means this bout has the potential to go down to the wire. Woodley by decision.
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