Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 September 2020

UFC 247: Jon Jones promises to give Dominick Reyes 'his first taste of defeat'

Champion says move to heavyweight would inspire him 'on a different level' ahead of light heavyweight title defence

Jon Jones is the UFC light heavyweight champion. AFP
Jon Jones is the UFC light heavyweight champion. AFP

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones returns to the octagon on Saturday night looking to add another surging contender to his list of victims, and the pound-for-pound king of the UFC said he gets a kick out of halting the hype trains of up-and-coming challengers.

Jones (25-1) will look to register the 26th win of his stellar Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) career in Houston, Texas when he takes on former American football prospect-turned MMA contender Dominick Reyes (12-0) in the main event of UFC 247. And despite Reyes' claims that he will present a unique challenge, the reigning 205-pound champion said the undefeated 30-year-old won't bring anything to the cage that he hasn't already seen – and defeated – before.

"A lot of these guys like to consider themselves the new era, or the new generation, of fighting," he said ahead the fight. "But when you get down to film study, there's only so many punches, kicks and moves you can do.

"I'm fighting guys that appear to almost come out of nowhere – guys that haven't always been on my radar. But as far as actual tactics, there's nothing 'new era' or 'next generation' about it. I guess guys are getting a little bit younger, but outside of that, the moves are all the same."

Reyes brings an undefeated record to the cage this weekend, with his most recent outing a stunning first-round knockout of former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman. Nine of his 12 wins have come inside the distance, and the California native firmly believes he has the X-factor that other challengers have lacked when they've faced Jones.

"The Devastator" feels he has the striking advantage and says that, combined with his sheer athleticism, will stand him in good stead against Jones, who he said has deficiencies in his boxing skill set.

Jones noted the challenger's undefeated record, but then reeled off names of past opponents who had all stepped into the cage with serious momentum. But momentum wasn't the only thing they had in common – they also all ended up losing to Jones.

"I like him as an opponent. I really like the fact that he's undefeated. I think something special comes out in me when I fight guys who are undefeated," said the champion.

"Ryan Bader was undefeated. He’s now the double champ (in rival MMA organisation Bellator). That excited me. Daniel Cormier was undefeated and looked at as close to invincible by many people. That excited me, and I passed those tests. Glover Teixeira was on a 20-fight win streak when I met him. So it definitely brings out more when I’m fighting someone who’s never tasted defeat before. Dominick has an attitude of being superior. And it’s going to feel great to give him his first taste of defeat."

Jones became the youngest champion in UFC history when he won the UFC light heavyweight title as a fresh-faced 23-year-old back in March 2011, and his performances since have cemented him as one of the sport's greatest-ever athletes. Issues away from the cage saw his career go off the rails in the mid-2010s as he was stripped of his title amid personal issues and anti-doping indiscretions.

Now older, wiser and seemingly free of the distractions that led him astray earlier in his career, Jones is back to his best and fully focused on building his legacy as he continues his quest to become the undisputed number one fighter in UFC history.

That quest could see him make the jump from light heavyweight to heavyweight, where some of the most fearsome fighters on the planet, including reigning heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, terrifying knockout artist Francis Ngannou and, tantalizingly, his old rival Cormier, await.

Undefeated Dominic Reyes takes on Jon Jones un UFC 247. Courtesy Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports
Undefeated Dominic Reyes takes on Jon Jones in UFC 247. Courtesy Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports

Jones didn't rule out the possibility of moving up to heavyweight after the Reyes fight this weekend, saying, "It’s definitely a possibility. One thing I know for sure is, I think going up to heavyweight would inspire me on a different level.

"I’ve been going against heavyweights my whole life. My brother (former Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Arthur Jones) is one of the best heavyweights in New York State wrestling history and I would wrestle him every day in high school and I would get my a** kicked my whole life.

"I used to train with Travis Browne, (former UFC heavyweight champion) Andrei Arlovski, so many great heavyweights, for years, so I’m very comfortable going against guys that are bigger and stronger than me. I guess all the questions I would have to answer is, how am I going to do with the weight gain and all that type of stuff. There are just a lot of factors that I’m not familiar with that would probably motivate me to just push it hard and give me it my best energy."

Before he can make serious preparations for the move up to face the UFC's big men, Jones has to prove he is still head and shoulders above the pack at light heavyweight. And he plans on doing exactly that against the man he hand-picked as his next opponent because he brought the most dangerous skillset to the table.

"It’s a great fight for me, just because he’s undefeated, and he’s the toughest guy out there right now," he said.

"We had the choice of whether we were going to fight Corey Anderson or Dominick Reyes, that was the conversation that I had with the UFC, and I chose Dominick Reyes because me and my coaches watched Corey fight and watched Dominick, and we saw that Dominick was finishing people.

"I like a guy like Corey Anderson who can grind out a 25-minute fight and match me in cardio. But Corey Anderson doesn’t really finish people like that. Dominick can finish people, which is way more of a challenge. It’s way more scary of a fight and that’s exactly why we did it. So, I love this fight."

Updated: February 8, 2020 08:03 AM

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