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Jon Jones: ‘Hats off to Anthony Smith for having a lion heart’

The odds may have been against Anthony Smith at UFC 235, but no one will ever deny his toughness, especially Jon Jones. In fact, the UFC light heavyweight champion is grateful for the resilient fighting nature that Smith possesses.

Esther Lin/MMA Fighting

“I’m so proud of him for being a real warrior out there and continuing the fight,” Jones said at the post-fight press conference.

In the fourth period of what was a shutout victory for Jones, Smith was hit with an illegal knee. Referee Herb Dean called a timeout to the championship bout to assess the foul. Had Smith chosen not to carry on, Jones would’ve lost his belt on disqualification.

“I know as well as anyone I could have sat there and taken the DQ,” Smith said in the cage after the final bell. “But I wanted to win the title, not steal it.”

The next and final round came and went. After a two-point deduction, the judges’ scorecards were unanimous : 48-44 for Jones.

Jones is now the winner of 15 straight. Ironically, the only loss of his career was at the result of more illegal blows: disqualified in 2009 for banging up Matt Hamill with 12-6 elbows.

“Hats off to Anthony Smith for having a lion heart,” Jones said. “The average person would’ve used that as a way out to become a world champion. I did an illegal blow. The illegal knee was totally unintentional.”

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