On Saturday, Jon Jones reminded us that light heavyweight has always been a division where reaching the summit was the mark of greatness, but staying there was the stuff of legend.
Depending on your point of view, Jones’ narrow victory at UFC 247 serves either as a sign that the champ is slipping, or a reminder of just how tough it is to do what he has done. In the third defense of his current title reign and 11th overall, “Bones” found himself pushed to the limit by an aggressive and well-prepared Dominick Reyes, who appeared to win the first three rounds on a majority of observers’ scorecards before fading in the championship rounds. While Jones retained his title in a controversial unanimous decision, Reyes’ stock does not figure to drop much in defeat, to the point that an immediate rematch was a topic of conversation in the aftermath.
Another hot topic of discussion was what the close call, Jones’ second in a row, implies about the champ himself: Is the 32-year-old New York native fading, or is the field simply catching up? After all, light heavyweight has historically been a top-heavy shark tank, and whoever wears the UFC 205-pound belt also carries the sport’s biggest target on his back, with some of sharpest minds and best-trained bodies in the game all working to figure out a way to beat him. Some of the greatest fighters of all time, including Mauricio Rua, Vitor Belfort and Randy Couture, were unable to defend the belt even once. Meanwhile, Jones now boasts as many title defenses as Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz and Daniel Cormier combined.
Ben Duffy/Sherdog.com illustration