UFC 247: Jones vs. Reyes

The former IT guy damn near became a UFC champ.

Jim Rome
February 10, 2020 - 9:36 am
Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes

USA Today


Remember before UFC 247 when almost nobody gave Dominick Reyes a chance? Remember when the talking points going into that fight weren’t about who Jon Jones was fighting, but who he would fight next. Would it be Stipe? Would it be Israel Adesanya, who was calling Jones a “washed up old man?” 

Do you remember all of that? I do. Because it was Friday. And then Saturday happened and that former high school IT guy, Dominick Reyes damn near did the impossible. He damn near beat Jon Jones. And according to some, he actually did beat him.

That was incredible. Reyes came out and dominated the fight from the start. For the first two rounds, Reyes was landing kicks and strong left hands. Over the course of the fight, Reyes landed 116 significant strikes to 104 for Jones. That’s the most eer from a Jon Jones opponent. 

That’s history. And for a stretch, it looked like we might see real history. The kind of history you buy a fight like this for. It looked like someone was about to beat Jon Jones and actually finally beat him in the cage. 

Because for a stretch, the former IT guy had the GOAT on a bike, backpedaling away and trying to avoid getting tagged. Reyes had a perfect plan and he was executing it. He was pushing the pace, cutting down the distance between he and Jones, and generally making life miserable for him. It was clear Reyes was no pumped up tomato can. He was legit and he was doing damage. This title shot wasn’t too much, too soon. The stage wasn’t too big. He said he could win the fight. And he was well on his way to doing just that.

It looked like Reyes was picking up where Thiago Santos had left off…come to find out, Jon Jones was not unbeatable. And maybe he was slowing down and someone was about to finally beat Jon Jones. 

And then it started to change. Because this was the first time Reyes had fought beyond the third round, while Jones is very used to going five rounds. And it showed. Say what you will about the first two rounds, the champ woke up….the champ was in the building for the last two rounds…the championship rounds. And he absolutely dominated.

When Jon Jones was on the verge of his strap ripped from him, he showed up huge. In other words, he looked like Jon Jones. He was landing just about everything he threw in the fifth round. 26 of the 34 significant strikes Jones attempted in the fifth landed. That is a massive percentage when it matters most.

So it went to the scorecards. A unanimous decision for Jones. And we’ve got ourselves a controversy. Not just in the arena, but in the White household. 

Because Dana White, who said he scored the fight for Reyes, said afterwards, plenty of people were blowing him up about the decision, starting with his own family! "I think there's a lot of controversy tonight. My son is in Laguna Beach [California] with a bunch of his friends at the beach house, he's freaking out on me, saying, 'You know Reyes won that fight. You know he did.' My son thinks the fix is in or something. It's crazy. There are some people very upset right now, and a lot of controversy about all the fights tonight."

Dana’s son is telling his old man that the fix is in. I love that.

But let’s clear this up – the fix wasn’t in. The incompetence might have been in, but the fix wasn’t. Because the judges got weird with the scoring. Really, really weird. Like Judge Joe Solis going with that 49-46. 

Let me preface this by saying that judging is a hard job. There are a lot of ways you can judge that fight. 

You can say Jones won. I wouldn’t fight you on that. You can say Reyes won. I wouldn’t fight you on that either. It was that close. You can say Reyes won the first two rounds and Jones took the last three. 

What you sure as hell can’t say is that Jones won four rounds.  You cannot say that. Not with any credibility. I have no idea where the hell that’s coming from. And neither does Reyes.

“Like, who are you? I might want to have a word with you. But other than that man, I know I won that fight. I know I won that fight. I was in that fight. I don’t have to watch the replay. I was there. I made Jon Jones look like, just a man. I brought the fight to him.”

He certainly did make Jones look like just a man in the first two rounds. And he was this close to the ultimate upset. The ultimate win that makes Reyes a household name. And he came up just short. 

To me, it all comes down to how you saw the third round going. If you had it for Reyes, he won the fight. If you had it for Jones, he won the fight. And because it was that close, just about everyone is going to have an argument to make. A legit argument. To me, it’s a coin flip on that round. 

Dana White gave it to Reyes.

If you’re pissed because Reyes lost, I get it. He fought his ass off. He had a great strategy and he executed on it for the first half of the fight and then either let his foot off the gas or just ran out of gas. Either way, he didn’t finish. Not like he needed to. And not like Jones did.  If he’d done that, he’d be holding the belt right now. If he handled the last two rounds the way he handled the first two, he’d be the champion.

But he didn’t. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have a right to be pissed if you’re Reyes or a Reyes fan. 

And if you’re a Jones fan, first of all, how badly were you sweating that in the first two rounds? You can’t tell me you weren’t thinking that this was the time it ends. That Jones was finally slipping and he was finally going to lose. Because he was. But then he did what a goat does: he tapped into a reservoir that most don’t have. He find that other gear when most others gas out. He did what he had to do. He dominated the Championship rounds. He pulled it out. 

I do want to make really important point: don’t come in here with that “to be the champ, you gotta beat the champ” logic when it comes to the judges decisions. Sure, if Reyes continues to dominate the last three rounds the way he did the first two, he’s the champion today. And if knocked out Jones, he’d be the champ today. 

But the way judging is supposed to work, you leave the belt on the side of the cage. When the fight starts, the judges are supposed to view both fighters as equals. You consider the action in front of you, in that round. Not what the fighters have done in the past. 

Jon Jones doesn’t come into the cage with some sort of extra point that gets applied to his score at the end of a round or at the end of the fight. If that’s how the judges approached it, they were wrong. And should never judge again. 

Reyes fought an incredible fight. The former IT guy damn near became a UFC champ. And if you told me right now that they’re running it back again, I’m all for it. Especially when you consider the other options for Jones at 205 right now. A rematch would be very attractive. And deserved. Dominick Reyes didn’t earn the belt on Saturday night, but he earned that. Dana White made the point that they both need to heal up; I get that. But I’d run that one back as soon they’re physically possible. Because if ever there was a fight screaming for an immediate rematch, that was it.