In his first match in over a year, Jon “Bones” Jones overcame Ovince Saint Preux to win via unanimous decision and claim the interim UFC light-heavyweight championship Saturday in Las Vegas (Sunday-PHL time).
Jones had not fought since January 2015, when he out-pointed Daniel Cormier to retain the belt. Since then, however, he has experienced several issues outside the Octagon, including testing positive for cocaine metabolites and a hit-and-run incident that forced the UFC to strip him of the title.
He was initially set to fight Cormier again at UFC 197, but “DC” pulled out of the event due to injury. Saint Preux took his place, and Jones overcame some ring rust to eventually come away with a 50-44, 50-45, 50-45 win.
Jones was rarely in trouble, but he also failed to finish the tough Saint Preux, who survived two slams in the fourth round and held on even as Jones landed elbows on him repeatedly. When he was announced the winner of the fight, Jones refused to accept the belt.
“I don’t think I want that belt,” he said. “It’s not the real belt. I want my actual belt back.”
Jones now has a 22-1 mixed martial arts record, with his lone loss coming to Matt Hamill via disqualification in December 2009.
In the co-main event, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson made quick work of Henry Cejudo to notch his eighth successful defense of the UFC flyweight belt.
Johnson brushed off a takedown from Cejudo before swarming his opponent with knees en route to the stoppage victory. “Mighty Mouse” is now just two victories away from tying Anderson Silva’s record of 10 successful title defenses. “There’s no game plan,” Johnson said afterward. “I come in here and just fight.”
In another match, Edson Barboza out-pointed former UFC lightweight champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis with scores of 29-28, 29-28, and 30-27. It was Pettis’ third straight loss.