On Saturday at UFC 247, Jon Jones will put his Ultimate Fighting Championship title on the line against undefeated upstart Dominick Reyes. In so doing, he will seek to build on his résumé as the greatest light heavyweight in history and make his case to be called the most dominant mixed martial artist of all time.
It is hard to dispute that “Bones” already has the first of those achievements sewn up; his 10 title defenses across two separate reigns are more than Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell combined. Jones’ capture of the belt from Mauricio Rua in 2011, and subsequent run of eight straight title defenses, represent unparalleled dominance. Not only were virtually all of his foes in that stretch highly deserving challengers, several of them were among the greatest fighters of all time in their own right.
Of course, that incredible run ended when Jones was stripped of the title after a hit-and-run accident, just one example of the litany of personal and professional missteps that have dogged his career. His road back to the title was derailed more than once by failed drug tests. However, an apparently clean and focused Jones won the belt back with a dominant victory over Alexander Gustafsson a little over a year ago, and has defended it twice more since.
With each successful title defense, the 32-year-old Jones bolsters his all-timer credentials while putting his past transgressions a little further in the rear view, but he is not the only man stepping into the cage at UFC 247. This weekend, we will learn whether the 12-0 “Devastator” has what it takes to shatter the narrative that the only man who can stop a Jones title reign is Jones himself.
Sherdog.com/Ben Duffy illustration