At UFC 247 in Houston last Saturday, Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes fought in a light heavyweight fight for the ages. Reyes came in hot right away, surprising Jones, the fans and the entire MMA community. The fight ended in some controversy, however, as Jones walked away the winner.
The judges scored the contest in favor of Jones (26-1, 1NC) 48,-47, 48-47, 49-46. The win ties Demetrious Johnson (11) for most title defenses in UFC history. He also becomes the winningest UFC fighter in title bouts at 14, edging Georges St-Pierre. It was an outing by Jones many have not seen in a long time. He looked almost vulnerable against Reyes (12-1), who controlled the first two rounds and showed his durability. Several times Jones tried to take down Reyes but the 30-year-old got up every time.
The win by Jones was very questionable by those watching from afar (FIGHT SPORTS had the contest 48-47 in favor of Reyes) and within the Toyota Center. After the bout, the normal question of “what’s next for Jon Jones?” was brought to the table. He could go to the heavyweight division or he could fight Israel Adesanya. Seeing how this fight went, however, and the impact it had, there is only one option that should be discussed:
The fight to make is Jones v. Reyes II.
There may be some saying that automatic rematches shouldn’t be a thing, but look back at Conor McGregor v. Nate Diaz and Rose Namajunas v. Joanna_Jędrzejczyk. While Jones v. Reyes doesn’t sound as sexy as McGregor v. Diaz, it is the closest we have come to some form of excitement in the light heavyweight division.
The UFC should strike while the iron is hot.
Both fighters want the rematch as well. At the post-fight press conference, Reyes revealed what Jones said to him after the fight.
“He said I shocked him,” Reyes said, via ESPN. “He didn’t really expect that from me. And he thanked me for making him a better martial artist. He said, ‘Our rematch is gonna be epic.’
“If the fans put enough pressure on Jones, if they put enough pressure on the UFC and they want to see it, then I’m sure I’ll get that rematch. I know I deserve it. It should be a rematch for him trying to get his belt back.”
When you think about it, a rematch isn’t necessarily holding up the division. Both fighters would most likely need the same time to heal. There is a match this weekend in Rio Rancho, New Mexico pitting Corey Anderson against Jan Błachowicz. Anderson (5) and Blachowicz (6) are each ranked in the UFC’s light heavyweight rankings, with the former having a true path to Jones if he were to win. However, Volkan Oezdemir is knocking on the door as well. Have a match pitting the winner of Anderson v. Błachowicz against Oezdemir and you save some time. If there are any issues surrounding contenders waiting to get their shot, Curtis Blaydes and his missed opportunities would like to have a word with you.
Reyes, like Thiago Santos, is not just another Jon Jones victim. They didn’t survive his fury, they tested him. Before the late-round takedowns, Jones didn’t achieve a successful one in seven+ rounds. When Alexander Gustafsson pushed Jones to the limit at UFC 165 in 2013, it wasn’t until 2018 when he got his rematch. By then, he wasn’t the same fighter who gave Jones his greatest challenge. Most don’t get as lucky as Gustafsson did.
UFC President Dana White is even calling for the rematch, as he was negative on the judges the entire night. It is a true money-maker for the company, why wouldn’t he be interested? The UFC is already planning for Kamaru Usman to face Jorge Masvidal during the summer. Who knows when the next time Conor McGregor is going to fight. Do you want a big cash grab? Go back to the source. The fight can be in the summer, one of the hottest (literally and figuratively) times of the year for the UFC. Imagine both Usman-Masvidal and Jones-Reyes highlighting a card?
If not during the summer, there is always November. Madison Square Garden looks pretty nice at that time of the year. Jones has said, however, that he wants to stay active this year, so an earlier fight is possible depending on health.
For Jon Jones, a rematch against Dominick Reyes is a chance to truly test himself. He may not have said anything, but others can see something different about him during his last two fights. With the competitive drive he has, it would be only fitting Jones takes the challenge and faces the opponent who almost bested him. With a win, it would further cement Jones’ legacy.
No matter what, fans would walk away happy and the fighters would make the company money. You can’t say no to that, can you?