Africa gets its first ever UFC Champ, Jones defends title

Tim Caplan –News Editor  

Kamaru Usman became the first ever African born fighter to win a UFC world championship on Saturday when he won the welterweight title in a dominant 5 round decision against longtime reigning champion Tyron Woodley in the co-main event of the evening.

UFC 235 took place at a sold out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 2.

“The Nigerian Nightmare” pressured Woodley in every aspect of the fight. He cut off the cage and took Woodley down repeatedly, who looked tired and unlike his usual explosive self throughout the fight.

In the post-fight Octagon interview, holding his young daughter in his arms, Usman paid respect to Woodley, who had defended his title four times before this, saying, “ When you talk about the best welterweights of all time, that man needs to be in the conversation.”

The Nigerian born Usman improved to 15-1 and became just the fourth fighter in UFC history to start his career 10-0. Woodley, who has been undefeated since 2014 with six wins and three finishes falls to 19-4.

The main card started off with a match up between former UFC Bantamweight Champion Cody “No Love” Garbrandt and number nine ranked 135 pound Brazilian Pedro Munhoz. This was Garbrandt’s first fight since being knocked out twice by the current champion TJ Dillashaw. The two began throwing heavy leather after a short feeling-out process and pandemonium ensued in the Octagon during one of the most exciting bouts of the night. Munhoz threw heavy low kicks to the calf of Garbrandt which impaired his movement toward the end of the round. Munhoz threw an overhand left that buckled Garbrandt’s knees and after a brief scramble “No Love” got back up to his feet and threw a flying knee to the head of Munhoz. Garbrandt began swinging with reckless abandon and was caught and sent to the floor with a stellar right hook from Munhoz with just 9 seconds to go in the first round.     

“Funky” Ben Askren made his much anticipated Octagon debut on Saturday as well in a fight against former 170 pound champ and number six ranked “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler. After being dropped on his head and punched repeatedly, Askren managed to secure a bulldog choke and was declared winner after a controversial stoppage by referee Herb Dean at 3:20 of the first round. Lawler’s arm seemed to go limp but contested that he hadn’t gone out immediately following the stoppage. Askren’s record is now 19-0-1 and will warrant a top five opponent in the division if not a title shot.

The main event was a match for the 205 pound UFC Light HeavyWeight Title between champion Jon “Bones” Jones and Anthony “Lionheart” Smith.

Jones came out cautious as he tested the range and made reads on Smith throughout the first round, landing a few spinning back kicks and hooks to the body.

Down the stretch, Jones’ cage pressure, along with his elliptical and outside leg kicks built a heavy lead in his favor.

Smith was unable to deal with the eight inch reach advantage of Jones and although he landed intermittent strikes throughout the first three rounds, was visibly unable to match Jones’ skill and experience. Aside from an illegal strike in the fourth round that cause a two point deduction, it was a flawless performance for the Jackson-Wink MMA fighter Jones.

This was Jones’ first title defense since winning it back after a series of suspensions spanning over three years.

It is unclear at this point who Jones will fight next, because he fought and beaten every top contender at 205 pounds since 2010, Brock Lesnar is a name that Jon has mentioned before, but as of right now UFC President Dana White says that Brock is still under contract with WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and will be in contact when he is ready to fight.