Toward the end of his UFC 235 title fight with Anthony Smith, UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones clobbered his grounded foe with an illegal knee. The referee paused the action, the cage-side physician entered the cage to examine Smith, and Jon Jones had a “nerve-wracking” flashback to his infamous disqualification loss to Matt Hamill.
”It was nerve wracking. It was nerve wracking, really,” Jones said at the UFC 235 post-fight press conference (transcript via MMA Fighting). “I just started to pray. I was just hoping that it wouldn’t go down like that. I had flashbacks of the Matt Hamill fight and I was just thinking, oh my goodness, please, tell me this isn’t going down like this. I was just looking at Anthony and I felt like we locked eyes at one moment and I kind of gave him one of these, like, ‘you’re alright, get your a** up’ [laughs]. Sure enough, he showed the heart of a lion.
”Hats off to Anthony, man. He could’ve done the easy way and took that option out, but instead he stayed in there. I owe him. I owe him a beer. At least a beer.”
Jon Jones went on to assure that the illegal knee was entirely unintentional. He also praised Anthony Smith for not taking the easy way out with a DQ knee.
”The illegal knee was totally unintentional,” he explained. “In the moment I felt his body language rising, and I thought I was gonna time a great head shot right after he got off of his palm. To my understanding, on his finger tips he’s considered standing. His body came up, I threw the kick, I guess his palm was still down. Totally unintentional.
”Hats off to Anthony Smith for having a lion heart,” he added. “I mean, I think the average person would have used that as a way out and became a world champion. He was tired, he had been hit with a kitchen sink, and, I mean, I did an illegal blow. And he decided to allow the fight to continue and I’m so proud of him for just being a real warrior out there and continuing the fight.”
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This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/4/2019.