The G.O.A.T of MMA, Jon Jones, returns to the ring, at UFC 247 against undefeated, #1 light-heavyweight contender, Dominick Reyes on February 8th at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Jon Jones has reigned at the top of his division for years. Having an almost unblemished record, Jones’ only “loss” came via disqualification against his bout with Matt Hamill way back in 2009, due to an “illegal downward elbow”. Jones’ disqualification still remains highly controversial till this day, due to the highly questionable call by referee Steve Mazzagatti, who has been known to make countless poor calls in the past.
Apart from this “loss”, it is unanimous that Jones is still considered undefeated. There has been nobody that has come remotely close to posing a serious threat to Jones. The only person that has ever shown Jones some resilience was Daniel Cormier, but he was still beaten twice at the end of the day.
Now let’s introduce Dominick Reyes. Standing at 6’4’’, with an equally impressive frame as Jones, Dominick Reyes matches with the Champ on a physical level despite the lack of reach (77 inches’ vs 85 for Jones). For the most part of his career, Jones has always been the bigger man with an instance reach due to his freak genetics.
To understand what makes this fight so interesting, we need to look back to the first time Jones had truly faced someone equal to him in size. Alexander Gustafson, in their first fight, gave Jones a lot of trouble. Jones could no longer fight at his preferred long range, and had to be aware of an opponent with equal range to counter him. Many, to this day, still believe that Gustafson did enough to earn the victory that night back in 2013.
29-year-old, undefeated Reyes, has unquestionably, the biggest challenge in his career ahead of him. Although he is riding a 6 fight UFC win-streak, with his most recent knockout finish, of former welterweight champ Chris Weidman, he is facing the G.O.A.T this time.
Things got heated at the UFC247 press conference after the two fighters exchanged words. Jones was adamant, saying “I know nothing about him. I see the games he wants to play with the insults and I don’t really care at the end of the day”. Jones later elaborated saying that Reyes was a one trick pony that relies too much on his straight left. “I can submit you, I can outwrestle you, I can kick box you to death “I’m gonna have a great 2020 and its gonna start off by destroying Dominick.”
I’ve been looked over and counted out by guys like you for as long as I can remember. Year after year I prove guys like you aren’t shit. You’re in my world now.
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) December 20, 2019
The question remains largely upon Reyes’s ability to land his signature straight left during the fight. Going against Jones with only 1 tool, while he has an entire tool box in his arsenal of techniques to use against you, only limits your options. It’s a tall order to fill but as we have all seen before with major upsets, anything can happen.