BALTIMORE (AP) — Jon Jones had the Baltimore crowd roaring when he broke out the “squirrel” dance made famous by Ray Lewis.
It was just the opening act of a dazzling performance.
“I hope I got the dance right,” Jones said.
He nailed it – then went out and punished Glover Teixeira.
Jones flawlessly mixed jabs and elbows in one of the greatest fights of his career, winning a unanimous decision over Teixeira on Saturday night at UFC 172, successfully defending his light heavyweight championship for the seventh straight time.
Jones (20-1) won 50-45 on all three scorecards and rolled to his 11th straight victory, the longest streak among active UFC fighters.
“I think it was the best peformance of his career,” UFC President Dana White said. “I thought he never looked better than he did tonight.”
He opened his pre-fight walk with the dance Lewis made his signature move. The former Baltimore Ravens linebacker had a cageside seat and stood several times to root on Jones. Chandler Jones and Arthur Jones, his NFL-playing brothers, also attended and sat near Lewis. Arthur Jones, who plays for the Colts, was a Super Bowl champion with Lewis and the Ravens.
Often booed, the fighter nicknamed “Bones” turned Baltimore into a home-cage advantage and showed Lewis that perhaps imitation was the sincerest form of battery.
“It was great to have the crowd on my side again,” he said. “I practiced that dance all day today. Ray was happy.”
Teixeira (22-3) ended a 20-bout winning streak that dates nine years.
“To beat a guy who hasn’t lost in 20 fights, I can’t complain about that peformance,” Jones said.
Jones was warned twice about eye pokes in the first two rounds and was threatened to have a point deducted if he did it again. No need.
He battered and bloodied the challenger, opening a cut over Teixeira’s right eye, and sending his mouthpiece flying with a hard right. Jones took down Teixeira in the final seconds of the fourth and pounded away on his face before the horn sounded.
He was in complete control in his latest dominant performance, something he vowed to do after he took a pounding the last time out against Alexander Gustafsson. Jones, one of UFC’s biggest active pay-per-view draws, pinned Teixeira against the cage several times and wore him down with body shots.
White said Gustafsson and Jones will have a rematch next.
“I had to answer a lot of questions after my last fight,” Jones said. “Had I lost my mojo? I answered those tonight.”
Just blocks away from Camden Yards, the real heavy hitters were inside Baltimore Arena for UFC’s debut in the city.
In the co-main event, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson cruised to a unanimous decision victory over former Penn State wrestler Phil Davis. Johnson fought for UFC for the first time in more than two years after he was cut once before for repeatedly failing to make weight. White welcomed Johnson back with one caveat, he would never return if he failed to make weight for the Davis bout.
Johnson made weight for the 205-pound bout – and made Davis pay. He busted open Davis near his left eye with a flurry of strikes early in the first, stopped all eight takedown attempts over three rounds and won 30-27 on all three cards.
Looking at White, Johnson expressed gratitude for his second chance.
“Mr. Dana White, thank you for what you did,” he said. “He’s the man who changed me. He’s the man who turned me into a beast!”
Earlier on the pay-per-view card, Max Halloway choked out Andre Fili in the third round and Jim Miller did the same against Yancy Medeiros in the first round. Luke Rockhold tapped out Tim Boetsch in the first round to keep UFC 172 humming along.
“It’s the night of guillotines, I guess,” Miller said.
With UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in her corner, Jessamyn Duke dropped a unanimous decision to Bethe Correia in the only women’s bout. Rousey, perhaps UFC’s biggest star, accompanied Duke to the octagon and shook her head in disgust after the scores were announced.
“I thought I had it,” Duke said. “I knew it was going to be close, but I really thought the fight was mine.”
Rousey coached Duke on “The Ultimate Fighter” and they train together with other female fighters known as “The Four Horsewomen.” Rousey’s appearance had fans standing and snapping pictures and was a highlight among the preliminary bouts.
Chris Beal opened the card with a flying right knee that connected flush on Patrick Williams’ chin for a KO.
“This might have been the most perfect flying knee I’ve ever seen!” White tweeted.