The Brazilian showed superior striking and grappling over all three rounds as he battered and eventually bloodied Jones with a series of vicious elbows on the ground. There were a few moments where it looked like Barcelos might secure the finish, but he still managed to get the job done with a dominant victory across 15 consecutive minutes.
The scorecards read 30-25, 30-27, and 30-27, all for Barcelos.
“I’m back in the UFC,” Barcelos said afterward. “This is what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to the ground and I wanted to finish the fight. Still, we did well but we wanted to finish it but actually happy to just [win one].
“I could fight next week but Rio [de Janiero] [at UFC 283] would be a dream come true.”
Barcelos set the tone early with an aggressive game plan that saw him push Jones backward while unleashing a steady output of strikes. Known primarily as a counterstriker, Jones continuously sat on his back foot and looked for an opening to throw heavy punches of his own.
Barcelos continued to vary his attacks by putting Jones on the canvas with a well-timed takedown that also allowed the Brazilian to move into the mount, where he began raining down punches from the top.
Barcelos was still on the attack to start the second round, using his slick boxing and a flying knee that nearly earned him a knockout. Jones avoided that shot but then ate a huge overhand right from Barcelos that ended with him on the ground again.
With Jones stuck on his back, Barcelos stayed methodical with his strikes as he connected with several stiff punches and even more elbows. By the time the horn sounded, Jones’ blonde hair was streaked with red from the blood flowing out of a cut opened by Barcelos on the ground.
Barcelos followed that up with another takedown that led him to the mount yet again, with Jones just stuck underneath him with little chance to escape. Barcelos continued searching for the finish but Jones refused to go away, although the fight ended in rather lopsided fashion after three rounds.
Following back-to-back losses, Barcelos had to know he was in a must-win situation on Saturday, but he put on one of his best performances to date and now he’s hoping for a fight at home with the UFC planning a return to Brazil in early 2023.