Jon Jones is back this weekend and is on the cusp of history as he faces Dominick Reyes at UFC 247.
The light heavyweight king faces the unbeaten Reyes at Houston’s Toyota Center; another victory would be his 14th title triumph, which would represent the most in UFC.
Jones has not been in the Octagon since being troubled by Thiago Santos last July, but he still heads into the bout as a heavy favorite against the lightly regarded Reyes.
Omnisport looks at some of the big questions surrounding the fight.
Can Jones be beaten?
A quick glance at Jones’ MMA record shows a solitary defeat, but there is an asterisk next to that loss to Matt Hamill in 2009. Jones was disqualified for illegal elbows after flooring his opponent. Jones has defeated some of the best in the MMA game, and though Reyes is sure to be a tricky customer, it is a tall order to see him losing this one.
How did his last fight go?
It was far from a vintage showing from Jones, who needed a split decision to overcome Santos — the first time in his storied career that has happened. All three judges scored the fight 48-47, with two in favor of the defending champion. It was one of the most sluggish performances of his career, though, and Jones will no doubt be keen to show Father Time is not catching up with him just yet.
Is the motivation still there for Jones?
This is perhaps Reyes’ window of opportunity. Jones hinted at a lack of desire to carry on campaigning at the 205-pound limit in October when discussing his fellow light heavyweights. He said on social media: “I want a fight to get excited about.” Jones’ desire to be considered the greatest is not in question, but he has admitted in the past to believing he has nothing to gain against Reyes, a feeling he also said he had for his previous two fights as well. A young, hungry Reyes will still have to produce the performance of his life, but there is the chance to catch Jones off guard.
What problems does Reyes pose?
First, a huge left hand, which has the knockout power to trouble any opponent, but Reyes also has more length than Santos and is an athletic fighter. He showed decent takedown defense when beating Chris Weidman, but that area will need to be flawless to defeat someone with the all-round qualities of Jones.
What’s next if Jones wins?
Jones was talking this week about what he needed to do to settle his claim as the G.O.A.T. The suggestion was that winning belts in two weight divisions would enhance his argument, so the question of whether Jones could make the step up to heavyweight was once again a hot topic. There is little left for Jones to accomplish at light heavy and Francis Ngannou is a bout Jones has described as “inevitable.” Another dance with Daniel Cormier could also be a possibility, though Jones previously said a bout against his longtime foe will not take place at heavyweight.