Jon “Bones” Jones may very well be the greatest MMA fighter of all time. At the very least, he’s the greatest light heavyweight to ever step foot in the Octagon, and that’s saying a lot given the history of that weight class.
A UFC champion, off and on, since 2011, Jones basically owns every record in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, and this Saturday, February 8, Jones will look to make his eleventh title defense when he takes on Dominick “The Devastator” Reyes in the UFC 247 main event.
It’s an intriguing matchup, but with Jones listed as a -450 favorite at the sports books, many are already wondering what “Bones” will do next.
For quite some time, pundits have speculated that Jones would eventually move up to heavyweight, not only to seek tougher competition, but also for bigger paydays and the opportunity to win a second UFC belt.
Thus far, Jones has resisted the urge to go up in weight, dominating every opponent who has attempted to take his light heavyweight title; however, just days before his fight against Reyes, while talking with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani. Jones announced his intention to pursue a run at heavyweight, in particular a fight against current heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. Believing that he’s ready to dethrone Miocic at heavyweight, Jones is plotting his move.
But, is he ultimately overlooking Reyes, a challenger with raw knockout power?
Undefeated as an MMA pro with six wins in the UFC, Reyes presents a unique challenge to Jones, mostly on account of his powerful left hand. Reyes is a highly athletic adversary who can potentially push and pressure Jones, but for all of his physical attributes, he can not match the experience factor, which belongs to “Bones.”
Taking a look at Jones’ record, it’s fair to consider that he may have the best resume in the history of mixed martial arts.
First winning the title when he was just 23, Jones has beaten six different former UFC champions en route to his 25-1 (1 No Contest) record. By comparison, Reyes, who made his professional debut in December 2014, more than three years after Jones won the title, has defeated just one former UFC champ during his run inside the Octagon, and that was Chris Weidman, a former middleweight who was making his light heavyweight debut at the time.
This is in no way discrediting Reyes, who has shown immense athleticism, poise, and, of course, power inside the Octagon. But, what can Reyes bring to a fight that Jones hasn’t already seen?
Perhaps it’s not so much about which version of Reyes shows up at UFC 247, but which version of Jones.
Coming off the first split decision win of his storied MMA career, Jones has shown high praise for his last opponent, Thiago Santos, the only fighter to ever win a judges’ scorecard against “Bones.” Calling Santos a worthy adversary, Jones was quite open about the performance, explaining that he can’t always be impressive and land the knockout blows and sink in the submission moves. But, in the leadup to this fight against Reyes at UFC 247 (remember, it’s available, exclusively, on Pay Per View on ESPN+), Jones is adamant that while “The Devastator” brings the power, there’s not too much else in the challenger’s arsenal that worries him.
Is this a clear indicator that Jones is looking past Reyes?
Not exactly. But with Jones showing little regard for Reyes, the UFC 247 main event may be one of those fights that fans can’t afford to miss because, well, MMA is full of unexpected outcomes and upsets, and this might just very well be the perfect setup for such a scenario.
Think about it. Did Ronda Rousey show much respect for Holly Holm at UFC 193? Not really, and look at how that turned out. The same can be said of UFC 69, when Georges St-Pierre lost the welterweight title to Matt Serra. At the time, St-Pierre was basically looking right past Serra, and ultimately paid the price by losing his title.
It’s not as though upsets happen all the time in mixed martial arts, but when they do, they’re often major moments in sports history, and on Saturday, February 8, Dominick Reyes has the opportunity to shock the world at UFC 247.
But then again, there’s a reason why Jones is so heavily favored. He’s the greatest talent we’ve ever seen inside the Octagon and does things that no other human can possibly do. He’s faced some of the best fighters in the history of mixed martial arts, and while he often makes it look easy, he’s been in the wars and he’s had to deal with major adversity to win some of his fights.
There’s a reason why Jon Jones is planning his move to heavyweight now, and once he goes up in weight, it’s possible that his career will never be the same. But this Friday, Jon Jones will step on the scale at 205 pounds, and on Saturday, he’ll fight Dominick Reyes in the UFC 247 main event. And, it may just be the last time we see Jon “Bones” Jones at light heavyweight.
UFC 247: Jones vs. Reyes goes down on Saturday, February 8. The UFC 247 PPV main card on ESPN+ begins at 7 p.m. PST / 10 p.m. EST.
UFC 247 Main Card on ESPN+ PPV
- Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes — for the UFC light heavyweight title
- Valentina Shevchenko vs. Katlyn Chookagian — for the UFC flyweight title
- Juan Adams vs. Justin Tafa
- Mirsad Bektic vs. Dan Ige
- Derrick Lewis vs. Ilir Latifi
UFC 247 Prelims (ESPN) 5 p.m. PST / 8 p.m. EST
- Trevin Giles vs. Antonio Arroyo
- Alex Morono vs. Kalinn Williams
- Lauren Murphy vs. Andrea Lee
UFC 247 Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass) 3:15 p.m. PST / 6:15 p.m. EST
- Miles Johns vs. Mario Bautista
- Journey Newsome vs. Domingo Pilarte
- Andre Ewell vs. Jonathan Martinez
Dan Shapiro is a writer, editor, musician, and producer currently based in Los Angeles. In addition to covering some of the biggest fights in combat sports history, he’s also hunted down the world’s best sushi, skied the northern hemisphere in July, and chronicled Chinese underground music for publications like CNN, the New York Daily News, VICE, and Time Out. Dan also conjured up a ghost at the Chateau Marmont while out on assignment for RoadTrippers. Follow him on Twitter here.
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