UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones heads to the Octagon for the first time in 2020 on Feb. 8 to face rising contender Dominick Reyes in the main event of UFC 247 at the Toyota Center in Houston.
The massive UFC pay-per-view event features two of the best finishers in the 205-pound division and represents a chance for Jones to add to his UFC record of 16 straight wins. Moreover, the huge contest finally has an official fight poster. The UFC released a photo of the official poster on Twitter, so it looks like its time for fans to start getting hyped about the second big UFC PPV event of the year.
UFC 247 features Jones vs. Reyes, an important battle between two of the top fighters in the 205-pound division, as well as women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko in a hotly-anticipated title defense against No. 1 contender Katlyn Chookagian.
The event will also include a couple of huge heavyweight showdowns. Powerful former title challenger Derrick Lewis is scheduled to take on Swedish contender Ilir Latifi in what will be a Houston homecoming bout for Lewis.
Additionally, heavyweight rumblers Juan Adams and Justin Tafa are each coming off knockout losses in their last fights and will face each other badly in need of notching victories. Like Lewis, Adams will also have the added pressure of competing in front of his hometown crowd.
Reyes Next Man Up for Jones
Jones is ranked No. 1 overall in the UFC’s official pound-for-pound rankings among all fighters for good reason. The 32-year-old two-time UFC light heavyweight champion has basically cleaned out the 205-pound division over the last decade to the point that he either has to move up to heavyweight, face top light heavyweight contenders again or simply move far enough down on the list to find the name of someone he hasn’t yet thrashed.
Of course, nobody has been good enough to beat Reyes, an undefeated 30-year-old phenom from California who has been clamoring for the title shot against Jones for some time now. Reyes is currently ranked No. 4 in the UFC’s official 205-pound rankings, but all the other three fighters listed ahead of him, Thiago Santos, Daniel Cormier and Anthony Smith, have already been defeated by Jones. So Reyes fits the bill because he’s the top-ranked light heavyweight Jones hasn’t yet faced and defeated.
Reyes is undefeated through 12 MMA contests. Moreover, Reyes is one of the few light heavyweights in the world who possesses the physical tools that could theoretically give Jones some issues. For example, Jones stands 6 feet 4 inches tall, but Reyes will match him with the same numbers. On top of that, Reyes is one of the few MMA fighters in the world who might actually be as elite an athlete as Jones in terms of speed and strength.
Shevchenko Could Earn Third Fight Against Amanda Nunes
Shevchenko vs. Chookagian is the co-main event at UFC 247, and both fighters also made the cut to be on the UFC’s official event poster. Shevchenko is one of the very best fighters in the sport. She’s currently ranked No. 11 in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings, and her excellent run in the company has probably been overshadowed a bit by the impressive historical feats Amanda Nunes has achieved.
Shevchenko already had two tries to defeat Nunes, but beating Chookagian might give the 31-year-old the chance at a third fight. Shevchenko faced Nunes in just her second fight with the company back in March 2016 at UFC 196 losing via unanimous decision. But the second fight was much closer. Nunes ended up winning a very close and competitive rematch via split-decision at UFC 215 in September 2017.
But Nunes, who simultaneously hold the UFC bantamweight and featherweight titles, might be running out of viable contenders. Besides, more than a handful of people believe Shevchenko deserved the nod two years ago, so a third fight between the two might make some sense.
Obviously, Shevchenko would have to get through Chookagian first, and that’s no certainty. After all, the 31-year-old possess a unique fighting style that could give Shevchenko fits, and she fought her way to the No. 1 ranking precisely so she could snag Shevchenko’s title.