What’s Next for Jon Jones After Controversial Decision over Reyes?

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has plenty of options after his controversial victory over Dominick Reyes at UFC 247.

Updated: Feb. 10, 2020 • 1:20 PM ET

Jon Jones is the longest reigning light heavyweight champion in UFC history.

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones set a record with his unanimous decision victory over Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 on Saturday in Houston, passing all-time great Georges St-Pierre for the most title wins in UFC history. Jones also tied Demetrious Johnson for the most title defenses (11), but the controversially scored main event, along with many other bouts on the card, left many questions at the night’s conclusion.

Despite the question marks, Jones and Reyes put on a show for the fans. Reyes proved he was a worthy challenger to dethrone Jones, and the judges could have easily given him the nod. The official scores were 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 with the latter score of three being the questionable decision. In a close fight where final striking stats had Reyes landing 116 significant strikes to Jones’ 104, finding four rounds that either fighter won was not an easy task.

In my opinion, there were three determining factors that won this fight for Jones:

1. While Jones was out-struck by a slim margin, he landed a higher percentage of significant strikes, 62 percent to 44 percent. Jones did a great job of slipping in power shots, which ultimately led to the challengers’ drop in energy and aggression in the later rounds.

2. Jones officially landed two takedowns; and while they didn’t lead to any damage, they led to control. If we are still using takedowns as an official scoring marker, you have to take them into consideration when choosing Jones as the victor.

3. Jones was the aggressor during the final three rounds of the fight. Reyes began to slow down in round three, while Jones did not. Hence, the challenger spent the final three rounds on his heels as the champion dictated the fight’s pace, which has to be taken into consideration, as well.

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“To be the champ, you gotta beat the champ” was thrown around on social media quite a bit after the fight. While I do not necessarily agree with this sentiment, the current system of UFC judging certainly supports it. It’s unknown whether Jones would have protested a Reyes victory, but Reyes seemed significantly enraged that the decision didn’t go his way.

“I thought I won one through three,” Reyes said during his post-fight Octagon interview. “He was on me four and five. He’s a champion, he got those takedowns at the end, but I popped right back up. I didn’t think they’d be a factor.

“But I had him one through three, man, I was all over him. It is what it is, I’ll get better. I know I will. This just proves that I’m the real deal and I’m here to stay.”

As Octagon announcer Bruce Buffer read the judges’ official decision, Reyes clearly thought he did enough to win the fight. The judges’ scorecards didn’t agree. Even though he lost the fight, Reyes made Jones look mortal, which makes him a winner in the long run.

Reyes has now put himself on a list of fighters people want to watch, which should only lead to bigger and better things, assuming he continues to win. He’s the Rocky of the UFC: he didn’t defeat the long-running champion, but many people believe he did.

Whether Reyes is granted an immediate rematch, there’s a good possibility we’ll see him fighting for a title again soon.

What’s next for Jones?

Talks of Jones moving up to heavyweight will likely increase after such a close fight against Reyes. A super-fight with heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic would be fun and highly marketable with Jones going for a second belt. However, UFC President Dana White wants Miocic to accept a trilogy bout with Daniel Cormier after the champion recovers from eye surgery, which there’s no timeline for his return from.

A fight with heavyweight powerhouse and former title challenger Francis Ngannou would be a tremendously popular fight with fans. Could Jones survive an onslaught of punches from arguably the most dangerous striker in the UFC? Ngannou’s next fight will be on March 28 against soaring contender Jairzinho Rozenstruik and with a victory, he would likely call for a title shot. A fight with Jones, though, could bring a bigger payday.

With Miocic’s return being uncertain, a third fight with Cormier is an option for Jones, as well. Cormier is the former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion, and has said the only fight he’s interested in is a trilogy bout with Miocic, not Jones. But how long can the soon-to-be 41-year-old wait for Miocic before he retires?

Cormier is still one of the best fighters in the world and because of the history he has with Jones, a third fight would be accepted by the fans. He could officially welcome Jones to the heavyweight division, and many pundits believe a fight between the two at heavyweight would be in favor of Cormier, not Jones. The last time the two faced each other in 2017, Jones won by TKO, but the result was later ruled a no contest after Jones tested positive for steroids.

If Jones stays at light heavyweight and wants to continue his run of eliminating the next contender in line, he could face the winner of Corey Anderson and Jan Blachowicz, who will meet in the Octagon on February 15. Both men have clamored for a title shot, as Anderson has won four straight fights and Blachowicz has won six of his last seven bouts.

Anderson is ranked fifth in the division, and Blachowicz is ranked sixth. A fight with either wouldn’t be a fan-pleasing move, but it would add to Jones’ legacy as he continues to clean out the light heavyweight division.

Then, of course, the glaringly obvious fight to make for Jones would be a rematch with Reyes. Entering their fight at UFC 247, it felt eerily similar to when Anderson Silva defended his title against then undefeated Chris Weidman at UFC 162. It felt like a big moment would happen in favor of the challenger, and Weidman took full advantage of that moment, winning by TKO in arguably one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.

Reyes certainly had some of the best moments against Jones we’ve ever seen, but it just wasn’t his time. That does not mean he cannot shock the world in a second fight against Jones.

The questions are still there. Will the UFC book the rematch, and how long will it take?

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