UFC 247: Is the Timing Right for Reyes to End the Reign of Jones?

UFC 247 press conference
Jon Jones Credit: UFC

Undefeated title challenger Dominick Reyes has put together an impressive run, but will he be able to upset the most dominant champion in UFC history in Jon Jones at UFC 247?

The only question left about Jon “Bones” Jones fighting career is when we might see the perfect storm of circumstances that may finally put a halt to his prolific reign.  He has reached the place where every night is either adding another page to an established legend or is the fateful event that it could all come crashing down.  He has gone through the very best in the division and now he faces a new upstart intent on etching his own name in UFC history with a seminal victory.

What could come after for the champion is not complicated.  Corey Anderson and Jan Blachowicz are set to collide in a bout with major title implications next week.  There is also the looming specter of a possible move to heavyweight where a bevy of new challenges await Jones.  According to Jones’ manager, a move up should only happen for the right opponent and amount of money.  If ever there was a time for the right deal to move up to be made, however, 2020 does appear to be it.  Of course, it is also hard not to look towards next year where a possible clash with current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya could take place.  Electing not to bulk up before such a fight takes place could be a very real factor before his jump up to heavyweight.

The man to halt all those talks could be “The Devastator” Dominick Reyes.  The 30 year old undefeated contender has put together a fantastic run in his three years in the UFC.  He has victories over former champions and top contenders like Chris Weidman, Volkan Oezdemir, Ovince Saint Preux, and Jared Cannonier.  The win over Weidman in October was his biggest to date.  With several high profile light-heavyweight bouts scheduled around the same time, Reyes set the bar high in taking out the former middleweight champion with an emphatic first round knockout that secured him his title shot.

For any fighter to finally defeat Jones would be considered a colossal feat.  But Reyes carries several qualities into the fight that make the bout much closer than would appear on paper for the upstart contender.  For one, Reyes height and reach are on par with the champion.  Jones’ primary asset is that his height and reach advantages are so immense that most fighters struggle with getting within range to mount offense in the first place.  Secondly, his multi-faceted attack is one Jones has not seen recently and the ability to mix-up his strategy could be a factor in key moments.

To score an upset, Reyes should look to implement several of the effective strategies seen by previous opponents.  Using leg-kicks and forward pressure to slow down Jones and get into the pocket is key to neutralizing the reach and unorthodox attack of the champion.  By keeping Jones on his heels, he also stops the risk of the takedown.  For Jones, establishing his range behind straight punches is key and creates the space necessary to change levels and get the fight to the ground if necessary where he figures to have an advantage.

A victory for Reyes would undoubtedly lead to an immediate rematch for Jones.  The fight would become one of the biggest fights of the calendar year to see if there is a permanent change of the guard for the first time in years.  Should Jones defend his title once again, it is anyone’s guess on what avenue would open up at either light-heavyweight or heavyweight as the UFC looks for the biggest fight possible for one of the most dominant champions in their history.