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Dominick Reyes says Jon Jones’ competition is finally catching up and ‘his time is up’

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Dominick Reyes vs Jeremy Kimball
Dominick Reyes
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Even as he stands days away from facing him in the UFC 247 main event, Dominick Reyes has no problem conceding that Jon Jones is one of the greatest fighters in mixed martial arts history.

In fact when Jones was winning his first UFC title in 2011, Reyes was still three years away from making his mixed martial arts debut. Nearly a decade later, Jones is still essentially undefeated—his lone loss came by disqualification in a fight he was winning handily—and his resume reads like a Hall of Fame candidate’s list with wins over Daniel Cormier, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Lyoto Machida.

Jones has displayed a level of dominance virtually unmatched in the sport but Reyes knows well that time is the greatest enemy of an athlete. As unbelievable as Jones has been, the 30-year-old undefeated light heavyweight contender believes the sand in his hour glass is finally running out.

“It’s time. It’s 2020. It’s a new decade, time for a new champion,” Reyes told MMA Fighting. “He’s had his run. It was a good run but it’s time. King Dom is ready to take the throne.”

Of course every opponent to face Jones in the UFC has shown a similar level of boisterous confidence only to leave the Octagon defeated.

The difference may be that Reyes isn’t afraid to acknowledge what makes the longest reigning light heavyweight champion in UFC history such an impossibly tough problem to solve.

“It has a lot to do with he’s Jon Jones and people kind of freeze in the moment. I think his mental game is one of the strongest aspects of his game that makes him such a dominant champion,” Reyes said. “Because he’s able to adapt on the fly. He makes adjustments mid-fight. Only the great fighters can do that and that’s why he’s a great fighter.

“I think those layoffs may have actually helped him keep that fire and coming back from the layoff may have reignited it for him. I think it’s his mentality that has separated him from other champions over the years. That and his freakish reach. People can’t get to his face very often. He moves well.”

While he’s happy to pass along compliments on Jones’ best attributes, Reyes can’t help but notice that Jones’ last couple of fights probably weren’t his best.

Maybe expectations are just unusually high for a fighter of Jones’ caliber but an uneventful outing against Anthony Smith followed by a stunning split decision win over a one-legged Thiago Santos left many wondering if he was unmotivated or perhaps the competition in the division had finally caught up to him.

Reyes believes it’s a bit of both.

“I think we as mixed martial artists in the light heavyweight division are catching up and our skills are drastically improving,” Reyes explained. “I’m a different kind of athlete. Dana White always talks about athletes like myself coming into fighting, guys that can be successful at other sports. He would always say that’s the future. Well the future is now. I’m here.

“I think Jon is still great but I think he is waning a little bit. We have caught up and I think he’s a little bit comfortable on top. That’s the best way to say it.”

To hear Jones say it, he’s just now in the prime of his career after finally putting all of his legal distractions in the past so he could fully focus on fighting.

In Reyes’ opinion, however, Jones is ready to pass the torch to the next generation of mixed martial artists — even if he doesn’t know it yet.

“Nothing lasts forever,” Reyes said about Jones. “His time is up.”