By Niall Clarke
- Jon Jones defeats Ovince Saint-Preux via Unanimous Decision (50-44, 50-45, 50-45) to win the UFC Interim Light-Heavyweight title.
- It was Jones’ first fight in 15 months after suspension due to legal and personal issues.
- Demetrious Johnson scores first round TKO over Henry Cejudo to retain the UFC Flyweight championship.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA- Jon Jones made a successful UFC return by defeating Ovince Saint-Preux via Unanimous Decision to win the UFC interim Light-Heavyweight title.
The number one pound for pound fighter in the world had not fought in 15 months after a series of legal and personal issues forced the UFC to strip Jones of his Light-Heavyweight title and suspend him indefinitely.
The vacant belt was eventually won by Daniel Cormier, the man who Jones last defeated before his suspension. ‘Bones’ was originally scheduled to rematch Cormier for the Light-Heavyweight crown in one of the most anticipated fights in MMA history. Unfortunately, the champion was forced out with injury and replaced by OSP on short notice.
The 33 year old would contest the biggest match of his life with nothing to lose and all to gain, and looked relaxed when stepping into the octagon. Jones entered the arena to “I’m coming home” by P. Diddy and Skylar Grey which was fitting as it indeed felt like the New Yorker was back where he belonged in the octagon.
The fight was arguably closer than expected despite Jones being in control of proceedings. Jones used his length and variety to keep Saint Preux at distance throughout the opening two stanzas. OSP was able to close the distance in the second round, landing a few strikes towards the end of a closely contested round.
The former champion showed some octagon rust as the underdog managed to keep the fight fairly close in the middle rounds. However, as we entered the championship rounds OSP showed signs of slowing down, allowing Jones to land two big takedowns and deliver heavy elbows and punches to stun Saint Preux and easily take the round. On the ropes heading into the final round, OSP did his best to stay out of trouble in the final round as Jones eased towards the finish.
It was a successful but rather underwhelming return for Jones after 15 months away from the cage. The crowd showed their restlessness with the performance with a few boo’s, but overall Jones himself might be the biggest critic of the performance.
“I needed to do this and get this fight out of the way. I felt like I only used 20 percent of my technique tonight,” Jones said via Yahoo.
It was not the usual dominance we have been accustomed to seeing from ‘Bones’, but it was still a victory that moves his record to 22-1 and sets him up for a rematch with Cormier.
“I’ve got to kill this Debbie Downer attitude,” he said. “I just won a fight in the UFC. I have a lot to be grateful for. I’m excited to fight Daniel Cormier.”
OSP fell to 19-8 in his career, but put forth a good performance as an heavy underdog against Jones.
‘Might Mouse’ retains Flyweight championship
Number two ranked pound for pound fighter in the world, Demetrious ‘Might Mouse’ Johnson swept aside number one contender, Henry Cejudo, to retain the UFC Flyweight championship.
As any Flyweight contest, the match started fast paced with the former Olympic gold medalist, Cejudo, landing a takedown inside the opening two minutes. However, ‘The Messenger’ was unable to do any damage and Johnson was able to get back to his feet.
From there the champion was able to impose his will with some vicious knees and elbows in the clinch. Cejudo managed to break away but was clearly stunned as Johnson rushed in for the finish. Another knee sent the Olympian to the ground and the champion was able to earn a TKO victory at 2:49 in the first round.
The win gave Johnson his eighth straight title defence leaving him only two away from Anderson Silva’s record of ten. Undoubtedly one of the greatest ever, the question now remains, who can be ‘Might Mouse’s’ kryptonite in the Flyweight division?
Edson Barboza def. Anthony Pettis via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
In one of the most anticipated fights on the card, Edson Barboza put on a clinic of brutal kicks to defeat former champion Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis via unanimous decision.
The first round was evenly contested with both men landing some good kicks. The Brazilian found an opening towards the end of the stanza and landed two overhands. The second round was where Barboza began to takeover the fight with some damaging kicks to the leg and body of Pettis.
In the final round, ‘Showtime’ had clear bruising on the legs and body as Barboza continued to punish him with kicks. As ‘Junior’ began to slow down, Pettis, knowing he was down on the scorecards, looked for a knockout with some flashy kicks but was unable to connect.
The unanimous decision win for Barboza is the biggest win of his career thus far and puts him in contention for the Lightweight title. For Pettis it is another loss and it will be interesting to see where ‘Showtime’ goes next.
Full UFC 197 Results:
Jon Jones def. Ovince St Preux via Unanimous Decision (50-44, 50-45, 50-45)
Demetrious Johnson def. Henry Cejudo via TKO at 2:49 of Round 1
Edson Barboza def. Anthony Pettis via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Robert Whittaker def. Rafael Natal via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Yair Rodriquez def. Andre Fili via KO (flying roundhouse kick) at 2:15 of Round 2
Sergio Pettis def. Chris Kelades via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Danny Roberts def. Dominique Steele via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Carla Esparza def. Juliana Lima via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
James Vick def. Glaico Franca via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Walt Harris def. Cody East via TKO (Punches), Round 1 – 4:18
Marcus Rogerio De Lima def. Clint Hester via Submission (Arm Triangle), Round 1 – 4:35
Kevin Lee def. Efrain Escudero via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28 )
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