Jon Jones didn’t have the best start to this title fight with Lyoto Machida, but the way he finished it to retain his light-heavyweight title was very impressive indeed.
The first round was cautiously fought, and that appeared to suit Machida better and he had the most significant moments.
Jones was taking the center of the Octagon and dictating the pace, but Machida was employing his traditional strategy, staying out of range and then unexpectedly pressing forward with quick flurries – a kick followed by punches.
One such flurry completely caught the champion by surprise and sent him stumbling backwards.
As for Jones, he was struggling to find a home for his strikes as Machida was doing a good job of moving out of range in time and Jones appeared reluctant to get in close which would negate his reach advantage.
Onto round two and again the two started off feeling each other out from range. Machida attempted his tactic from the first round of charging forward with strikes, and again it worked for him, with Jones looking uncomfortable as he backed up.
That exchange made Jones think about changing strategy for the first time, reaching for the clinch where he is so effective with his throws, but Machida pushed him off.
He’s got it in his head to take him down now though and so he rushes in again and manages to grab a hold of the Brazilian and scores with a big takedown. He immediately gets to work with his elbows and after just a shot or two Machida is already bleeding from a big gash on his forehead.
Machida gets back up and the fight is stopped briefly as the doctor checks on Machida’s cut. It’s bad, but he’s free to continue fighting.
They start up against the cage again, but then break free and go back to the stand-up battle.
It’s then that Jones suddenly found his target with a short left that dropped Machida. He got back to his feet, but this was the beginning of the end for him as Jones reaches for a standing guillotine up against the cage.
It’s deep and referee John McCarthy gives him every chance to escape before calling off the fight. It’s at that stage that it becomes apparent that Machida was choked out cold as he crashes to the floor as soon as the choke is released.
Wow! It really looked like Machida was getting a foothold in this fight in the early stages, but once Jones remembered that there’s more to MMA than just striking things quickly began to swing in his favor.
There were perhaps some chinks in his armor shown tonight, but in just a couple of minutes of fighting in the second round he showed he does have power in his strikes, that he is legit threat from submissions, and that his ground and pound is as nasty as it comes.