UFC 247 breakdown: Dominick Reyes has tools to upset Jon Jones, but putting it all together is tricky

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(Editor’s note: This story originally published on Feb. 5, 2020.)

MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main event for UFC 247.

UFC 247 takes place Saturday at Toyota Center in Houston. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.

Jon Jones (25-1 MMA, 19-1 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 32 Weight: 205 lbs. Reach: 84″
  • Last fight: Decision win over Thiago Santos(July 6, 2018)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/striking style: Switch-stance/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:

+ UFC light heavyweight champion
+ JUCO national wrestling title
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt
+ 10 KO victories
+ 6 submission wins
+ 7 first-round finishes
+ Athletic and agile
+ Creative and dynamic striker
^ Preternatural instincts and improv
+ Effectively dictates range
^ Teep kicks, oblique kicks, hand posts
+ Deceptively effective inside clinch
^ Superb hand-fighting /grip disruption
+ Multiple takedown tools
+ Devastating ground striker

Dominick Reyes (12-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 30 Weight: 205 lbs. Reach: 77″
  • Last fight: Knockout win over Chris Weidman(Oct. 18, 2019)
  • Camp: Cobra Kai (California)
  • Stance/striking style: Southpaw/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:

+ Regional MMA titles
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt
+ Wrestling accolades and experience
+ 7 KO victories
+ 2 submission wins
+ 9 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Explosive athlete
^ Measures distance well
+ Solid striking flow
^ Variates well to body and legs
+ Accurate left cross and power kicks
+ Shows good wrestling fundamentals
^ Defensively and offensively
+ Rides and transitions well from topside

Point of interest: ‘Enter The Jones’

The main event for UFC 247 features a light heavyweight title fight with an undefeated prospect who will attempt to dethrone one of MMA’s last bastion of current legends in Jon Jones.

There have been plenty of theories pitched over the years in regards to how to defeat Jones, but few fighters have been able to give legs to even the most reasonable of assertions. And despite the champion’s last title defense sparking more serious talk about his perceived striking skills, the overall results he draws from his process is hard to deny.

Though blessed with some solid athletic gifts, Jones’ almost-unflinching computing of striking exchanges has helped him stay ahead of his contemporaries throughout the years.

Seldom will you see Jones throw the same sequence of strikes within the same minute or even round – unless, that is, he is trying to set up his opposition or walk them into something sinister. And with him being one of the most tried and true stance switchers in MMA, Jones can exercise a plethora of options available to him to help further his agenda.

Whether he’s hiding behind hand posts or disrupting his opponent’s approach with oblique kicks and body assaults, Jones is clearly not shy when it comes to utilizing his length. Still, I would also argue that Jones has proven he isn’t reliant on it either.

Not only does Jones have the aforementioned-abilities to navigate exchanges, he also has made quiet strides in his boxing ability in an effort to help shore up the range that most of his opponents risk life and limb to maintain. Even against the breakneck pressure that Daniel Cormier brought to their second meeting, Jones was able to pivot or shift his way into counter punches like never before in his career.

That said, Jones also has experienced his hardest shots when shifting in or out of this range and is not beyond getting himself crossed up in retreat – something that could prove costly against someone who can match him in both size and speed.

Enter Dominick Reyes.

A former collegiate football player who fights out of a southpaw stance, Reyes brings in a host of well rounded, physical attributes to compliment his skills. And despite his background and on-paper experience, the 30-year-old appears to have a natural feel for the striking arts.

Displaying a preternatural sense for range, Reyes uses pressure to draw out reactions. He has hard hooks and kicks that keep his opposition honest, but it’s his pinpoint left cross that acts like a battering ram, both coming forward and off the counter.

Reyes also does well at varying his attack levels, going to the body or targeting the legs with regularity. Should the striking savvy that seems well beyond his years stack up to the senior fighter, then perhaps Reyes can land similar shots that the past two Jones opponents have – particularly in the kicking department.

However, if Reyes is too eager to look for counters in retreat and concede space (as he’s shown at times in the past), then he could end up inadvertently backing himself into the fence and inviting Jones to test him in other ways.

Next point of interest: Crucial clinch warfare