BALTIMORE — The game plan was for Jon Jones to stay at distance and look for takedowns. The UFC light heavyweight champion did neither of those things. He won anyway.
Using dirty boxing and the best elbows in all of MMA, Jones dominated challenger Glover Teixeira en route to a unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) victory at UFC 172 on Saturday night here at Baltimore Arena. Jones saw Teixeira was trying to wind up and hit him with hooks, so he closed the distance, pushed Teixeira up against the cage and hammered him over and over with vicious elbows. UFC president Dana White said it was Jones’ best performance.
"It was all improv," Jones told Joe Rogan afterward.
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Jones (20-1) cut Teixeira in the third round with an elbow and opened up a canyon-sized gash over his right eye in the fourth round with another one. To his credit, Teixeira hung around until the final bell of the fifth despite being absolutely pummeled.
"It was a lot like what we thought it would be," said Jones, arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. "Glover, he doesn’t tend to be so versatile."
Teixeira (22-3) was classy in defeat, his first loss since 2005. He was on a 20-fight winning streak. This victory firmly established Jones as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, if it already wasn’t a definite.
"He’s tough, man," Teixeira said. "He [took] my best shots. My left hook three or four times and came back strong. Great champion, man."
Teixeira went straight to the hospital after the fight. White said he was getting his shoulder and ribs checked out. Teixeira’s shoulder was dislocated in the first round when Jones cranked on an overhook. Jones said he heard Teixeira’s arm pop twice.
Teixeira was a 5-to-1 underdog and the unorthodox, super-athletic Jones made him look like that at times. But it was more about how good Jones was than about Teixeira’s shortcomings. As White said this week, Jones has a chance to go down as the best MMA fighter of all time. He didn’t do anything to dispel that notion Saturday night.
Jones, 26, will likely meet Alexander Gustafsson again sometime in the fall. Gustafsson gave Jones’ his best fight, a war back in September that Jones won by very close decision.
Jones didn’t want to talk about Gustafsson on Saturday night, refusing to answer questions about "that kid."
There will be plenty of time to discuss that bout, which will be the biggest of Jones’ career and the likely largest the UFC will put on this year. For now, we can just enjoy Jones’ greatness, how he can take his initial strategy, rip it up mid-fight and dominate doing something completely different.
Jones, whose lone career loss came via disqualification, said he was unsure of himself coming in. The last fight against Gustafsson didn’t go as planned. He was pushed for the first time — or as White puts it, he "got his a** kicked."
"Sometimes you’re not always in control of your gift," Jones said. "I was hoping it was back."