Over the past few fights, it appeared that we were seeing a more vulnerable Jon Jones. It was noticed in the Thiago Santos fight, and the Anthony Smith bout even had a small moment of doubt in Jones’ skills. Each time, however, Jones walked away with the winner.
Inside the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, Jones beat Dominick Reyes via unanimous decision to retain his UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. All the judges scored the bout in favor of Jones 48,-47, 48-47, 49-46. The last score by Joe Solis was considered controversial, as was the result of the fight according to many.
“That fifth round won me the fight,” Jones went on to say. “Those takedowns won me the fight. I believe with my whole heart I won that fight.”
While the later rounds may have won the fight for Jones (26-1, 1NC), it was the opening rounds that stuck out. Reyes (12-1) started off the fight hot, avoiding the kicks of Jones right away. His legs and uppercuts were connecting, and at one point Reyes brought Jones down early. Reyes had an early-round lead against the champion.
— UFC (@ufc) February 9, 2020
The second round was more of the same for Reyes, as he continuously hit the body of Jones. He hit combination punches and kicks that affected Jones’ body, who after the fight gave all the respect in the world to Reyes.
This is where things got interesting. Reyes hit a huge leg kick to start round three. Both fighters hit a number of shots, Jones with his kicks and Reyes with his uppercuts. While it wasn’t a fast pace compared to the first two rounds, Reyes stuck in there and showed the holes in Jones’ game.
The championship rounds saw Jones utilize his wrestling game. It appeared to be the first time he had a successful takedown in 7+ rounds. Jones used kicks and hooks to slow down Reyes and continue to control the pace in the latter half. He hit a few spinning kicks and landed a number of takedowns. As the fight ended, the theme of the night became everyone questioning what the judges would do.
They did not disappoint.
The challenger pushing the pace in R4!
— UFC (@ufc) February 9, 2020
The Global Scorecard data for Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes is razor close.
— Verdict (@VerdictMMA) February 9, 2020
According to the ESPN broadcast, Reyes was leading in significant strike advantage in the first three rounds by a wide margin (23,17, 33-22, 26-19). Jones had the advantage in the last two. Reyes landed 116 significant strikes to Jones’ 104.
Dana White had the fight 48-47 for Reyes, but acknowledged there were dissenting opinions throughout the promotion.
He said that former matchmaker Joe Silva scored it a draw.
— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) February 9, 2020
“I had him one through three, man,” Reyes said. “I was all over him. It is what it is. I’ll get better… I proved that I’m the real deal.”
The win by Jones 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.
Main Card (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Jon Jones (c) def. Dominick Reyes via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) – UFC Light Heavyweight Title
Valentina Shevchenko (c) def. Katlyn Chookagian via TKO (1:03 into round three) – UFC Flyweight Title
Justin Tafa def. Juan Adams via TKO via TKO (1:59 into round one)
Dan Ige def. Mirsad Bektic via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Derrick Lewis def. Ilir Latifi via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Preliminary Card (8 p.m., ESPN)
Trevin Giles def. James Krause via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Andrea Lee v. Lauren Murphy def. Andrea Lee via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Kalinn Williams def. Alex Morono via KO (0:27 into round one)
Mario Bautista v. Miles Jones via TKO (1:41 into round two)
Early Prelims (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Journey Newson def. Domingo Pilarte via TKO (:38 into round one)
Andre Ewell def. Jonathan Martinez via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
Austin Lingo v. Youssef Zalal def. Austin Lingo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)