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 defence 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 defences. 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 defence.
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.