Earlier this month, Jon Jones successfully defended his light heavyweight title by the skin of his teeth, taking a controversial unanimous decision over Dominick Reyes at UFC 247. It was one of the rare times in MMA where a dominant champion winning actually further muddied the title picture as now there are a number of contenders with legitimate claims to getting the next shot at Jones. Currently it would appear that Jan Blachowicz, who just knocked out Corey Anderson in the first round, is next but many fans are calling for an immediate rematch between Jones and Reyes, chief among them, UFC commentator Joe Rogan.
Speaking on his Fight Companion podcast during UFC Auckland, Rogan began discussing what’s next for Jones, saying he’s excited to see a rematch between Jones and Reyes, in part because he thinks Reyes is still improving.
“I’m excited to see that rematch,” Rogan said. “I think Dominick Reyes will be even better in the rematch. I think Dominick Reyes realizes now that it’s all about having the energy in that third, fourth, and fifth round, and having now been to the top of the mountain and faced the dragon, I think he’s gonna come back better than ever.”
Though Reyes is 30 years old, “The Devastator” is still young in fight years, having only started MMA six years ago. Meanwhile Jones, though only 32, has been competing in MMA since 2008 and has seemingly been showing signs of decline in his last few fights, scraping by with wins over Reyes and Thiago Santos. But Rogan isn’t sure if aging is the cause of Jones’ decline or if it’s just a matter of motivation. After all, a decade at the top of the game, even with his hiatus in the middle, is a long time to stay sharp.
“You’ve got to wonder how much of that slowing down is his enthusiasm, how much of it is physical?,” Rogan questioned. “Maybe if a big fight comes up like a Stipe Miocic fight, or Francis [Ngannou]. . . He had a couple of years off because of all his troubles outside of the octagon. Two years where he really wasn’t fighting. But other than that, he’s had nine solid years against world-championship caliber fighters.”
It’s a fair point. Jones famously did not train for his first bout with Alexander Gustafsson and nearly lost his title as a result. When the two did finally rematch though, a fully motivated Jones ran through Gustafsson en route to third-round TKO win. Similarly, in the lead up to UFC 247, Jones did not seem especially concerned with the danger posed by Reyes. Now, having nearly lost his title, a rematch may bring back the old world-beating Jones. Or, as Rogan points out, it could bring out an even better version of Reyes, one who may just win the title.
“I’d like to see it,” Rogan said referencing Jones’ impressive performance in rematches. “I want to see what Reyes can do, too. Reyes has got that rub now. Reyes is gonna come into that second fight knowing he came a c*nt hair away from being the light heavyweight champion of the world. One judge gave it to Jon four rounds to one which is f*cking embarrassingly bad but other than that . . .”
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I’m excited for the new MMA fighter trope: Motivated Jon Jones.
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