Jon Jones defeated Dominick Reyes by unanimous decision to set the new UFC record for title fight wins at UFC 247 in Houston. Jones entered the contest tied with Georges St. Pierre atop the leaderboard at 13 UFC championship bout victories, but the current pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter in the UFC had the additional mark of being undefeated across those contests whereas St. Pierre had suffered two losses.
Now Jones sits alone atop that list with 14 title fight wins, perhaps solidifying his claim to being the greatest MMA fighter ever.
But it didn’t come easy.
Jones, 32, from Rochester, N.Y., found himself on the wrong end lots of Reyes’ hard punches during the contest. Jones pressured Reyes from the start. He threw hard kicks to the challenger’s legs while Reyes threw hard punches back to the head and body. Reyes, 30, from Hesperia, Calif., landed a hard punch that put Jones to the mat, but the champion quickly got back to his feet. Now Reyes was amping up the pressure with Jones moving back to keep the powerful contender off him.
Reyes was busy and landing blows. Jones blocked them, but it was clear the younger Reyes had the upper hand early. But Jones rallied with a hard kick to Reyes’ head. The champion ended the round pressing forward trying to lure the challenger into making a mistake. That never happened.
In the second round, Jones looked to regain control with hard punches and kicks. Reyes moved away from them circling to get his feet placed before exploding towards Jones. The champion retreated. Jones managed to weather that storm, but it was clear Reyes had found something with his faster hands.
Still, Jones went back to pressing forward about halfway through the second round. Leg kicks, front kicks, and an occasional hard punch were all part of his arsenal now. But just about every time it seemed as if Jones was about to take control of things, Reyes rallied with fast combinations.
The two traded leg kicks to start the third. Jones tried to pressure him, but Reyes made him pay with a hard kick to the head and heavy punches. Jones again had to retreat when Reyes got the better of a boxing exchange in the pocket.
But Jones pressed toward his opponent anyway. A huge uppercut by Reyes stunned Jones but the champion remained undeterred. He attempted a takedown soon after the blow, but Reyes escaped. Jones’ main problem for the rest of the round was that he pressed forward without being able to land too many strikes.
Reyes opened up the fourth round with punches to stun Jones, but the champion soon scored a takedown. Reyes recovered fast to get back to his feet, and the two were again standing to trade strikes.
Jones again went for the takedown a few moments later, but Reyes escaped it. Jones kept pressing but couldn’t find a way to keep Reyes from landing punches as he moved forward. Still, both fighters took damage as the action reached a fevered pitch.
As the two tired late in the fight, it was Jones who started to land the harder shots.
The two were cheered wildly by the crowd to start the final five minutes of action. Jones exploded for the takedown 30 seconds into the frame. He briefly had Reyes’ back but the challenger escaped back to his feet. By round five, Reyes had clearly tired. Jones showed his championship mettle by pressing hard with kicks and punches while Reyes mostly tried to avoid the fray.
Judges scored the bout for Jones 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46.
Entering the fight against Reyes, Jones also held three other prominent UFC divisional records. He’d already won the most contests in the history of the light heavyweight division at 19, scored the most title defenses at 10 and had the longest win streak in the 205-pound ranks at 13.
The victory over Reyes at UFC 247 added a digit to those totals, too. It wasn’t quite the dominant Jones victory many had expected, but it got the job done.
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