Jon Jones was the heavy favorite coming into title defense on Saturday at UFC 247 against Dominick Reyes, and rightly so, due to Jones' reign of terror over the light heavyweight division.
Reyes provided Jones with arguably the stiffest test of his career despite being a big underdog. At the end of the day, however, Jones showed the heart of the champion in the final rounds to narrowly defeat Reyes by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) to retain his title. The decision didn't go over well with the fans at the Toyota Center in Houston, who felt the challenger had done more than enough to win. Sporting News had the fight scored 48-47 for Reyes.
“I knew it was a really close right and I turned it on in the fifth round,” Jones said in his postfight interview. “That fifth round won me the fight. Those takedowns won me the fight.”
Reyes (12-1) came out a man possessed and did what most of Jones' opponents don't do — come right at him. The strategy proved to be effective; his signature left hand and leg kicks were his best weapons. He mixed up his striking well and used combinations that had Jones backing up for the first two rounds.
Much of the same was happening in the third round until about halfway through it, when Jones ramped up the pressure to test Reyes' cardio and see whether he could go through a 25-minute war.
As the fight entered the championship rounds, Jones showed why he's perhaps the best of all time. After Reyes stunned him and had him on the ropes in the opening seconds, Jones was relentless and got scoring takedown after takedown. To his credit, Reyes kept getting up, but the energy spent staying off his back had taken its toll.
The fifth round belonged to Jones. He controlled the Octagon, landed the harder shots and was the aggressor throughout the last five minutes while Reyes rode his bicycle in the final two minutes thinking he had the fight in the bag. When the final horn sounded, both fighters felt they had done enough to win.
Throwing away the horrific 49-46 scorecard, the result comes down to how one views the third round. Reyes felt he owned it.
"I thought I won [Rounds] 1 through 3," Reyes said. "He was on me [in] 4 and 5. I had him 1 through 3, I was all over him."
Reyes didn't walk out of the Lone Star State with the gold, but he could still hold his head up. People believe believe he did more than enough to dethrone Jones.
"I'll get better. I know I will," he said.
With his toughest opponent behind him, what is next for Jones? Will he finally make the trek up to heavyweight or stay at 205 pounds?
"I'm going to have to talk to my coaches and figure out what I want to do," he said.
An immediate rematch, anyone? If any fight deserves one, it's this one.
Here is what happened at UFC 247.
UFC 247 live results, updates
Round 5: That final round belonged to Jones. He shored up his striking and mixed it up to dominate the last five minutes. Don't know what Reyes was doing in the last two minutes. Instead of fighting, he was acting like he already won because his corner told him he was ahead and just had to survive. Let's go to the scorecards. Remember we are in Texas. (10-9 Jones, 48-47 Reyes)
Round 4: The round began with Reyes coming in and rocking Jones with a series of shots. Knowing he was in trouble, Jones immediately rushed in for a takedown. Reyes initially stuffed it but Jones was relentless and finally got it. But the will of Reyes allowed him to continue to get up. Jones found something with his striking at the end of the round that did it for him. Jones needs a stoppage to win. (10-9 Jones, 39-37 Reyes)
Round 3: Good round for both guys. The pressure Jones is applying has Reyes backpedaling and exhausted. But Reyes connected more and stayed active and stuffed a big takedown attempt by Jones. Can Jones captialize on the exhaustion of Reyes because he's in trouble? (10-9 Reyes, 30-27 Reyes)
Round 2: Don't get why Jones is keeping it on the feet. A takedown can win the fight. Reyes is throwing in combinations while Jones is going one at a time. Reyes is landing the harder shots, keeping up his pace and letting Jones know he isn't going anywhere. (10-9 Reyes, 20-18 Reyes)
Round 1: if you thought Reyes would lay down for Jones, think again. Reyes controlled the action on the feet, including dropping Jones with a straight left hand and stunning him on more than one occasion. Shocked Jones hasn't attempted to get Reyes down. (10-9, Reyes)
12:29 a.m.: It is time for the main event of UFC 247 as Jon Jones defends the light heavyweight championship against No. 4-ranked Dominick Reyes. Jones (25-1, one no-contest) competes for the first time in 2020 after defeating Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos last year. Reyes (12-0) roars into the fight of his life, knocking out former middleweight champion Chris Weidman in the first round back in October.
Is Reyes the guy to dethrone Jones? We are about to find out.
Valentina Shevchenko decimates Katlyn Chookagian to retain women's flyweight title
12:15 a.m.: Shevchenko def. Chookagian by TKO at 1:03 of the third round to retain the women's flyweight championship.
Shevchenko dominated from the jump and it only appeared to be a matter of time after making it look easy after two rounds. Chookagian started to get some success in the third round when Shevchenko took her down and landed in side control. Shevchenko got Chookagian into the crucifix position and the champion took it from there. With Chookagian unable to do anything, Shevchenko unloaded a barrage of shots until the referee stepped in and put an end to the beating.
Who is going to beat Shevchenko at 125 pounds? It's going to take someone special to get it done.
Round 2: A dominant round for Shevchenko. She connected on a back spinning wheel kick to the head which was absolutely flawless. And when she sees an opening than she took Chookagian back down to the mat. Chookagian has to fully commit to her shots. Can't go half speed. With Shevchenko, it's either you go all in or get blasted out.
Round 1: Shevchenko is such a joy to watch. Her striking is crisp and on point. The end of the round saw Shevchenko taking Chookagian down and, moments later, slicing her head open with a vicious elbow. Chookagian is gushing blood over her left eyebrow. (10-9 Shevchenko)
11:50 p.m.: It is time for the co-main event of UFC 247 as Valentina Shevchenko defends her women's flyweight title against No. 1-ranked Katlyn Chookagian.
If it weren't for women's bantamweight and featherweight champion, Amanda Nunes, we would be talking about Shevchenko (18-3) as the best female competitor in the world. Shevchenko is 7-2 in the UFC with both losses coming to Nunes at 135 pounds. She won the vacant 125-pound strap against Joanna Jedrzeczyk at UFC 231. Since then, Shevchenko scored one of the most violent knockouts in recent memory over Jessica Eye in June and then a dominant decision against Liz Carmouche in August.
After losing to Eye in a close decision that most felt she won at the aforementioned UFC 231, Chookagian (13-2) has earned back-to-back wins vs. Joanne Calderwood and Jennifer Maia to secure the championship opportunity with one of the premier talents in the sport.
Will Chookagian become the one not named Nunes to take care of Shevchenko?
Justin Tafa blasts through Juan Adams in under two minutes
11:40 p.m.: Tafa def. Adams by TKO at 1:59 of the first round.
Tafa doesn't get paid by the hour. A check right hook wobbled Adams. Sensing he could close the show, Tafa blasted Adams with a right uppercut to send him to the canvas. A couple of ground and pound punches was all she wrote for Tafa to notch his first UFC win.
11:30 p.m.: Right now at UFC 247, Justin Tafa faces Juan Adams. Tafa (3-1) has won all of his fights by knockout. Adams (5-2) looks back to get back on the winning track after losing to former NFL star Greg Hardy in July. The heavyweight division needs more blood and the winner continues their progression towards the upper tier.
Dan Ige extends his win streak to five, beating Mirsad Bektic
11:20 p.m.: Ige def. Bektic via split-decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28).
If you are a fan of grappling then this was the fight for you. If not, then hopefully you stayed awake. Ige clearly won the first round, Bektic took the second. The third was close and could have gone either way. A good win for Ige that runs his winning streak to five and should be in the rankings next week in the 145-pound division.
10:55 p.m.: Up next at UFC 247, Mirsad Bektić meets Dan Ige in featherweight action. Ige (12-2) rides a four-fight winning streak heading in as he competes on the biggest card of his career. An interesting story about Ige is that he's also an MMA manager. Bektic (13-2) needs to gain some consistency as he's 2-2 in his last four. A showcase bout for both guys here. Who can get it done?
Derrick Lewis narrowly gets by Ilir Latifi
10:44 p.m.: Lewis def. Latifi by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
People will say Latifi should have gotten the nod for what he did for a good chunk of the third round. Until the last minute, it looked like it would go the Swede's way. But went Lewis went "Beast Mode" and unloaded everything including the kitchen sink and wobbled Latifi on more than one occasion. Remember, Latifi did nothing with his groundwork. You can take someone down but if you do nothing with it, one shouldn't get the points.
A solid win for Lewis. Hopefully, he stays in the good shape he was in at UFC 247. It will do him good in the heavyweight division.
10:32 p.m.: It's about time that the referee stood Latifi and Lewis up. What was he waiting for? Latifi did nothing with the position he had. I'm about to fall asleep as we enter the third round.
10:15 p.m.: The main card of UFC 247 begins with No. 6-ranked Derrick Lewis taking on Ilir Latifi in heavyweight action. Lewis (22-7, one no-contest) snapped a two-fight losing streak, defeating Blagoy Ivanov by split-decision at UFC 244. Latifi (15-7, one no-contest) is making his debut at heavyweight. He moves up after losing back-to-back bouts. Can Lewis get it done in his hometown and make another run towards a title shot?
10:01 p.m.: A beautiful tribute to the late Kobe Bryant.
9:33 p.m.: The champ is here.
Report: Jon Jones is here and he feels good. pic.twitter.com/He85Q925Vw
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) February 9, 2020
9:30 p.m.: Welcome to Sporting News' live coverage of UFC 247, headlined by the return of Jon Jones, as he defends the light heavyweight championship against Dominick Reyes. Grab the refreshments, sit back, relax and enjoy what should be an exciting night of action.
UFC 247 undercard results
Khaos Williams def. Alex Morono via knockout at 0:27 of the first-round; Welterweight
Mario Bautista def. Miles Johns by TKO at 1:41 of the second-round TKO; Bantamweight
Journey Newson def. Domingo Pilarte via TKO at 0:38 of the first-round; Bantmaweight
Andre Ewell def. Jonathan Martinez by split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28); Bantamweight
Youssef Zalal def. Austin Lingo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27); Featherweight
UFC 247 fight card
Jon Jones (c) vs. Dominick Reyes for Jones' Light Heavyweight title
Valentina Shevchenko (c) vs. Katlyn Chookagian for Shevchenko's Women's Flyweight title
Juan Adams vs. Justin Tafa; Heavyweight
Mirsad Bektić vs. Dan Ige; Featherweight
Derrick Lewis vs. Ilir Latifi; Heavyweight
Trevin Giles vs. James Krause; Middleweight
Alex Morono vs. Kalinn Williams; Welterweight
Lauren Murphy vs. Andrea Lee; Women's Flyweight
Mario Bautista vs. Miles Johns; Bantamweight
Bantamweight Miles Johns vs. Mario Bautista
Bantamweight Journey Newson vs. Domingo Pilarte
Bantamweight Andre Ewell vs. Jonathan Martinez
Austin Lingo vs. Youssef Zalal; Featherweight