Jon “Bones” Jones 32 (25-0) vs. Dominick Reyes, 30 (12-0)
What’s at Stake for Reyes: The Lightweight (205lbs) Championship Belt, the incredible status as the only man to beat the best, and a ton of money. And then a rematch with a very angry Jon Jones.
For Jon: He will have won more Championship fights than Georges St-Pierre – the only other fighter in the conversation for greatest of all time – so it’s a final feather. And then he will fight either Israel Adesanya (185lb champ) or Stipe Miocic (Heavyweight Champ) and make a legendary amount of money.
For the record regarding “GOATS” – Khabib is not that close – he has his hands full with Tony Ferguson and then Justin Gaethje – by far the two most dangerous men he’s ever faced.. so he has a large 2020 in store for him, and actually, much to prove. If he gets by them, he has a seat at the table…. But given his wrestling style at 155lbs – where it’s more effective in that weight class – he’s really just the best wrestler… I’m not being a hater – most of his fights are extremely intense especially for his opponents.
But Jon … Jon is the greatest mixed martial artist ever, and a win against Reyes means he’s cleaned out his LHW division for the second time – the rarest feat in the sport (GSP).
Reyes is an athletic 6 foot 4, ex-defensive back in football at a small division 1 school (Stony Brook), and everyone claims his athleticism has allowed him to adapt within the MMA world with pace. He’s undefeated with a 1st round KO over Cannonier (impressive) and wins over OSP (wow) and a past his prime Chris Weidman (I’m being kind, Chris made a bad mistake and walked into an easy KO). But one win on his record was against Volkan Oezdemir in London, 1 year ago. That’s the tape to watch – Reyes looked overmatched and outsmarted. Volkan got robbed in the decision.
My point: Volkan would be a 30:1 underdog against Jon Jones.
Last point: Reyes is an undefeated athlete with good size, and a nice left hand.
While Brock Lesnar made me keep from changing the channel in 2009, it was Jon “Bones” Jones who made me a fan of the entire sport. His spinning elbows, his first fight against Gustafsson and photo from the hospital, him seeing his own dislocated foot, his rivalry with Cormier – all highlights that I will not soon forget. He’s a true martial artist… He’s also a bit of a menace to society. He loves drugs – recreational blow, and probably EPO. He popped for steroids and other banned substances before, and had to sit out for long stretches of time. In the ring he’s been accused of deliberate eye pokes (happens to most fighters) and was nearly DQ’d again against Anthony Smith. He frequents rip clubs and gets in trouble in them. His hit and run is still on the people of Alburquerque’s mind. He’s a flawed human trying to literally fight his own demons. I find him compelling and have remained a fan. I understand why people have abandoned or avoided him. Let’s leave all that there.
Jones is an athletic 6 foot 3 and has never lost. Jones has all the talent in the world (all American wrestler, black belt in Jiu-Jitsu, elite kickboxer) and is widely regarded as the greatest fighter of all time. He’s fought everyone.
Main Questions: How does an aging Jon Jones do without the help of steroids?? (critics say he’s been slowing down of late – with 6 of his last 8 fights having gone to the judges being a bit of a red flag). Has Reyes been fed to the lion too soon? (yes, I’d think, but possibly the 12-0 record helps his mindset). Is Reyes one dimensional with one strong Left Hand? (as Dan Henderson says “everyone knows about my right hand, but I still use it, because it works.”) Jon went the distance with Santos and Smith, two middleweights that moved up, this a worry? (maybe). Can Jon take Reyes down from the clinch? Can He keep him down? (actually not sure). Why am I so confident in JBJ, is it bias? (Probably). Has Reyes’ awkward call outs and insults gotten to Jon? (yea I actually think Jon is sufficiently mad, and yes it’s important).
Keep money in mind: Evolving every day … Saudi Arabia is offering $100m to Khabib for him to fight there??…. or boxing promoter Eddie Hearn receiving $40m for the Ruiz/AJ fight this past December?? The stakes have never been higher, and entertainment quality is at its highest premium. Thinking about a Jones/Adesanya fight probably nets both men $100m each .. I am thinking Jones has taken this fight very seriously. And since entertainment pays the bills, I am thinking a KO finish is worth even more $$.
Prediction: Jon Jones finishes Dominick Reyes. I hope it’s with an old school spinning elbow, the most legendary strike in the game (for me anyway). But most likely he just uses his FAR superior wrestling to ground and pound Reyes into the earth…. Or just chokes this nerd out and moves swiftly on to some real prize fights. Either way, it’s not a matter of if, it’s when. Talent over youth in this case.
Other Fights I like:
Derrick Lewis 22-7 vs Ilir Latifi 14-7
Funnily enough, despite both having incredibly ordinary records, these two guys have power and potential entertainment quality. The “Black Beast” has trimmed down and had much more energy against Blagoy Ivanov – and nearly decapitated the Bulgarian about 10 times. Instead, he missed on all attempts and just barely won the split decision. Either way, respect for Lewis was gained (not that much though). While he enjoys a huge height differential in this one (6 foot 3, vs 5 foot 10), and the threat if this turns into a boxing match being high, Latifi is moving up from light heavyweight – which should absolutely suit him against Lewis. I have to think Latifi will be much quicker, and happier not having to cut the weight – and if you’ve seen this guy, he has all the power he needs. I’m staying short Derrick Lewis, and taking the semi large underdog of Latifi by KO. +400 line!
Domingo “Son of Fire” Pilarte vs Journey Newson, both 8-2. Pilarte is 6 feet tall. Journey is 5 foot 5. Pilarte also fights out of Houston (where this card takes place).That’s all I need to know. The Son of fire gets the night/crowd going early. Odds are even? Book it.