NEWARK, N.J. — With one awkward lunge, Jon Jones’ big toe about popped off his left foot.
Before he hobbled out of the octagon, Jones had one more spectacular title defense to finish, returning to the site of his championship win and staking his claim as perhaps the greatest UFC light heavyweight of all time.
Jones bloodied an overmatched Chael Sonnen with a series of strikes to the face in the first round to win by TKO and defend his light heavyweight championship for the fifth straight time on Saturday night at UFC 159.
Nicknamed “Bones,” Jones proved he was a champion down to the bone — the one that jabbed its way out of his toe with one misstep. Jones (18-1) suffered a compound fracture and needed a stool inside the cage to complete his post-fight interview.
He needed no time finishing off the trash-talking Sonnen (28-13-1).
After his third takedown of the round, Jones buried a knee to the body, then went to work on Sonnen’s face. Sonnen covered up as the ref stopped the fight at 4:33 of the first.
“I felt I came out here and was strong and courageous,” Jones said.
Jones said he was hurt late in the abbreviated round. Had the fight go on, Jones would have been unable to continue.
“They would have stopped it. In a second,” UFC president Dana White said.
With the win, Jones matched UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz’s light heavyweight mark of five straight successful title defenses. After beating Shogun Rua to win the belt, Jones went on to defeat Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans and Vitor Belfort.
There was no immediate word how long Jones would be out. But if he returns and wins again, Jones would stand alone in the record book.
“It would be hard not to call him the greatest light heavyweight of all time,” White said.
Jones returned to the Prudential Center and the site of his championship win over Rua in March 2011. He strolled to the cage and took delight in the long walk toward his latest title defense.
Sonnen stared at the giant video screen and beckoned for Jones to walk out. Sonnen stared down Jones for the entire walk to the cage and yelled out, “Come on, boy!” at the champ.
Jones dragged out his intro and hugged his mom before he stepped inside the octagon. He performed a cartwheel on the mat as the crowd booed the extracurricular theatrics.
They should have enjoyed the show more — his entrance was longer than the fight.
“Last time I was here, I had all these goals and aspirations to become a champion,” Jones said. “Now, I’m here in the same building as one of the best champions.”
Jones, a former college wrestler and the brother of two NFL players, made quick work of Sonnen with uppercuts and elbows.
“I’ve had a lot of fights and a lot of them haven’t gone my way,” Sonnen said. “But I’ve only been beat up twice and that was number two.”
Jones rested in the cage with the belt around his waist as doctors wrapped his toe. He gingerly walked out with no assistance and his left big toe bandaged up. Backstage, the entire left foot was in a bulky wrap. White said Jones would need a hospital visit.
“I was supposed to go to Jamaica after this,” Jones said. “Now, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
The UFC hoped to pull off this bout in September as the main event at UFC 151.
Jones, though, refused to fight Sonnen on eight days’ notice after contender Dan Henderson was forced to withdraw because of injury. Jones didn’t want to risk his title against a last-minute replacement in Sonnen, so he balked at the fight.
White was forced to cancel a pay-per-view show for the first time in his tenure. Jones survived a near submission and would defeat Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 in late September.
Jones and Sonnen coached against each other during the recent season of “The Ultimate Fighter”
“The Ultimate Fighter was the best experience I ever had in this sport,” Sonnen said.
This night had to be one of the worst.
On the undercard, Sara McMann, a 2004 silver medalist in wrestling at the Athens Olympics, won her UFC debut with a TKO over Sheila Gaff. McMann jumped Gaff at the start and pounded her on the ground for most of the first round. She delivered a series of devastating elbows to Gaff’s head before the bout was stopped. McMann received a huge ovation after her hand was raised and she walked out of the octagon to No Doubt’s “Just a Girl.”
“I’m a wrestler. I can take people down whenever I want to,” McMann said. “I put myself in the captain’s seat where I could do the most damage and I plan to keep doing that.”
McMann-Gaff was the third female bantamweight bout in the UFC, all this year. Ronda Rousey, who won the main event of UFC 157, was at the show.
With New York one of the few states that has yet to legalize MMA, the UFC has often turned to New Jersey to stage its biggest cards on the east coast. White said he was no longer making New York a top priority.
“If New York never happens, it won’t hurt UFC one bit,” White said. “But imagine what it can do for New York.”
Pat Healy opened the pay-per-view card with a third-round submission win over New Jersey native Jim Miller. Bruce Buffer was booed after he misspoke and named Miller the winner. In other PPV bouts, Phil Davis won a unanimous decision over Vinicius Magalhaes; Roy “Big Country” Nelson used a big overhand right to stop Cheick Kongo in the first round; and Michael Bisping bloodied Alan Belcher with a nasty cut near the right eye and won via TKO.
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