Unlike his most recent title defense against Thiago Santos in 2019, where he earned a split decision, Jones got the unanimous nod this time around with all three judges scoring the fight in his favor.
Despite that result, there were still cries that Reyes deserved the victory after taking it to the light heavyweight champion, especially in the first three rounds.
In fact, Reyes said afterwards he felt “disrespected” by the decision, and he was particularly bothered by judge Joe Solis scoring the fight 49-46 for Jones.
“I don’t think he was disrespected,” Jones responded at the UFC 247 post-fight press conference. “I got takedowns. He got no takedowns. I got his back. At one point I put a hook in. The fifth round, I was surprised in the output difference we had. I have to watch the fight. It’s hard to speak with confidence when I haven’t watched the fight.”
Looking back at the first two rounds, when Reyes was arguably at his strongest, Jones said he was never in any serious trouble, even as the previously undefeated contender was coming after him with a fiery offensive onslaught.
In his mind, Jones was just settling into his rhythm during the first 10 minutes, while gauging Reyes’ conditioning for the championship rounds that came later.
“There’s no panic,” Jones said. “A part of me wanted to see if he could keep that up. A part of me wanted to see what he had to offer. I saw what he had to offer. I also saw that he couldn’t keep that up. You’ve got to embrace that. What I do for a living is not always pleasant. It’s just a big part of the game.
“It was a great feeling out process. I realized I got to take his best punches. I think my chin is very underrated.”
Jones doesn’t doubt his victory. But he said his coaches told him with brutal honesty that the fight might hang in the balance based on the outcome of the fifth and final round.
“I wasn’t always confident that I was winning the fight,” Jones explained. “I was confident that I wasn’t going to be giving up or slowing down. Greg Jackson said to me, ‘Jon, you may need to win this fifth round to win.’ And that heart of a champion said, ‘No problem, coach. I got that. I can do that for you. I can leave it all out there.’
“I think I displayed the difference between a champion and an extraordinary contender. He had all the tools. But something special happens when it’s time for the champion to present himself. You guys saw it tonight in the fifth round.”
Following the event on Saturday night, Reyes has already stated that he would love the opportunity for an immediate rematch to right the wrongs he suffered at UFC 247.
Jones doesn’t seem opposed to the idea either. But whether he faces Reyes next or somewhere else down the road remains up to the UFC.
“I don’t think Dominick had any excuses for losing tonight,” Jones said. “He lost. It was close but they say close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades. He can try 1,000 times, and I believe I’ll edge him every single time.
“It’s my job to embrace the toughest challenges. That’s what a champion is being about. I fought [Daniel Cormier] twice (and) had no problem signing the contract. I fought Alexander Gustafsson twice, had no problems signing the contract. If the people want to see me fight Dominick again, it’s going to be up to Dana White to make that happen.”