Long before the undefeated 29-year-old contender Reyes was competing inside the Octagon, he was a fan, and Jones was one of the fighters he most admired.
When examining Jones, Reyes admits there might not be a better fighter in the history of MMA. But the champ has taken years off his career over his behavior outside the cage.
Jones was stripped of his title a first time after he was suspended following a hit-and-run accident in 2015. Then he was stripped a second time after failing a drug test in 2017, his second anti-doping violation under the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
In addition to those infractions, Jones has faced DUI charges, tested positive for cocaine prior to his first fight with Daniel Cormier, and just this week pled no contest to disorderly conduct after he was accused of accosting a waitress in a strip club.
“Honestly the thing with Jones, he broke my heart,” Reyes told MMA Fighting ahead of his showdown with Chris Weidman at UFC on ESPN 6. “I was a fan of Jones before I got in the UFC. I was like, ‘Jones is the man, he’s great, he’s a good dude,’ all those things – and then he’s coming out with, ‘I’m on steroids, I’m doing coke, I’m hitting ladies in cars,’ doing all kinds of stupid s—t, and it’s very disappointing.
“It ruined it for me. He’s got it all, and you’re just being an ass. That’s his problem. I had tremendous respect for Jon; I actually admired him. Then all of a sudden, he’s a f—king clown.”
In many ways, Reyes saw a lot of himself in Jones as he progressed on the regional fight scene and tried to earn a spot on the UFC roster. Only after seeing Jones’ actions away from fighting come back to haunt him again and again was Reyes convinced there were two very different sides to the longest reigning UFC light heavyweight champion.
“[Jon] Jones was saying he was me, basically — college educated, family oriented, God’s first, family, kids, giving back to the community, being an actual good person,” Reyes said. “Instead of all those things, he’s going out and doing blow and slapping strippers in the vagina. Come on man, what are you doing?”
Of course, Reyes isn’t the first UFC fighter to criticize Jones’ behavior. But he truly hopes he will finally be the person to dethrone the light heavyweight champ when he gets his opportunity.
As he works towards a sixth straight UFC win this weekend, Reyes feels like Jones has to be the next obstacle in his path. And once he takes the title, he plans to be a model champ.
“I’m ready to be the champion that the world needs and deserves,” Reyes said. “A guy that isn’t doing shady s—t behind the scenes. A legit role model for kids. The guy that Jones was trying to be – but I’m actually that guy.
“I’m a responsible adult and a professional fighter. I’m being accountable. I think that’s more than anything. I’m accountable. I do what I’m supposed to do. Just being accountable and respectful. At the end of the day, be respectful, (and) be responsible.”