Now, with Jones’ immediate future in limbo as he engages in a dispute with the UFC over fighter pay, Reyes is wondering if it would be best to just move on from the longtime heavyweight king entirely. Jones has asked the UFC to release him if they’re not going to increase his compensation, and while UFC President Dana White is hopeful that Jones will step into the octagon again, he has also pointed out that Jones has already made enough money to retire.
Speaking to SiriusXM, Reyes was asked how he feels Jones’ current reign should be handled with “Bones” on indefinite hiatus.
“If he’s not gonna fight, then you’re done,” Reyes said. “You’re done. You’re stripped, it’s over ‘cause he retired. I mean I guess it’s not stripped, it’s more retired. He said he’d walk away.”
In April, Reyes mentioned his interest in competing for an interim title, possibly against fellow contender Jan Blachowicz. That was in lieu of a rematch with Jones, which a large contingent of fans were calling for in light of how their first encounter unfolded.
Reyes challenged Jones for the UFC light heavyweight championship in February at UFC 247, losing a unanimous decision after five competitive rounds. Immediately following the judges’ call, there was an online uproar in favor of Reyes being the actual winner. According to Reyes, as far as he knows the original plan was to do an immediate rematch but plans changed due to both the coronavirus outbreak and Jones’ own refusal to sign on.
“It was the pandemic and Jon,” Reyes said. “Jon didn’t want to fight. He flat out said, ‘No.’ ... There was no date, nothing like that, it was like, we want to run the rematch but Jon doesn’t want to do it. Everybody was down except for Jon and his whole thing was money so he turned it into, ‘Oh, I’m a champion for everybody else to get paid more.’ But this has nothing to do with anyone else. It has 100 percent to do with his pockets only.
“I don’t know, he’s trying to twist and make it so he can get more fans, ‘I’m a champion for the fighters, I’m doing all these other things.’ He should have just fought me.”
Presented with the possible scenario of Jones sitting out for an extended period of time and then returning to claim his title after the division moves on without him, Reyes said he has zero interest in that narrative.
“You can’t sit out two years with a new champion and then be like, ‘Well, I’m the undisputed champ,’” Reyes said. “You quit.”