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Is Dominick Reyes finally the right opponent to take on Jon Jones?

As dominant as Jon Jones has been for so many years, the only true obstacles have been outside the octagon. The UFC Light Heavyweight Champion was 2-0 in 2019 after a several-month layoff. Now, he will look for his first win of 2020 when he reportedly faces Dominick Reyes in February. For Jones (25-1, 1NC), it is like looking into a mirror, as he will be staring down a young fighter dominating the competition. Reyes (12-0) has six wins with the promotion and has seven wins via knockout. In fact, Jones requested Reyes as he saw him as the best matchup for him.

At only 29 and with still plenty to prove, was Reyes the right choice to take on Jones? More importantly, does he have what it takes to beat Jones?

There is zero doubt there are a number of contenders that could have faced Jones. Corey Anderson (13-4) is on a four-fight win streak, just recently knocking out prospect Johnny Walker at UFC 244. Jan Blachowicz (25-8) is on a two-fight win streak, just recently taking out Jacare Souza this past week. However, by looking at what matters to the UFC, both are below Reyes in the UFC Light Heavyweight rankings.

As far as talent goes, Reyes is the same height as Jones at 6’4 and does pack a mean punch. He also has some solid defensive skills.

However, Jones has a 7.5-inch reach advantage and it always dangerous in the clinch and on the ground. With ten wins via KO and six via submission he truly is a diverse fighter. As dominant as he has been, however, the competition, not to mention recent time off, may be taking a toll on his body.

Jones beat Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 in a rematch of their epic clash at UFC 165. While we didn’t know what to expect this time around, it ended up being a one-sided affair. Jones didn’t finish him off, however, nor did he do the same against Anthony Smith, which was a much easier fight for him. He barely beat Thiago Santos last time out at UFC 239, and Santos was on one good leg. Not using his signature takedown ability, some have been questioning Jones’ motivation.

Reyes is a few inches taller than Santos and Smith and has been known as a resilient fighter. If Jones continues to not utilize the ground, which he didn’t really use against Santos or Smith, and if Reyes can glide his way out of the clinch, this could be a tough challenge for Jones.

Besides the Santos fight, we haven’t seen Jones be truly tested. We also haven’t seen the same sense of urgency as before. Can a panned but interesting contender in Reyes finally give Jones the motivation he needs to become the Jones of old, and make this a fight we will never forget? On one side is a path to superstardom, while the other is a path to further prominence. Which path will walk out of the octagon victorious?

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.
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