MMA Review: #713: UFC 247: Jones vs. Reyes

-I was super excited for this one because in my opinion at least, Dominick Reyes was the trickiest challenger for Jon Jones since the first time he fought Daniel Cormier back in 2015, and the card looked pretty solid underneath too.

UFC 247: Jones vs. Reyes

02/08/20
Houston, Texas

-Your hosts are Jon Anik, Joe Rogan and Dominick Cruz.

Heavyweight Fight: Derrick Lewis vs Ilir Latifi

This was a weird fight to be honest – it was Latifi’s first one at Heavyweight, and despite being TINY for the division he was immediately pitted against a dude who has to cut to make 265lbs in the form of Lewis. Due to the sheer punching power I was taking the Black Beast.

Round One and holy shit Lewis is over with this crowd. To be fair he is a native Texan I guess. Lewis presses forward early as Latifi circles on the outside, and pretty much nothing happens in the opening minute until they clinch up. Hard right hand breaks for Latifi and he continues to circle. Flying knee lands HARD for Lewis but somehow Latifi takes it and grabs a clinch. That was insane as it appeared to land flush. Takedown attempt from Latifi and he goes hard for a single leg, but Lewis defends impressively. They remain clinched and the action slows down until ref Dan Miragliotta calls a break. Head kick glances for Lewis. Another one follows and they trade off back into the clinch. Crowd are booing now. Another takedown is defended really well by Lewis. Seconds to go and they break off, and Lewis tries another flying knee before Latifi grabs him to end the round. 10-9 Lewis.

Round Two and Lewis opens with a head kick that Latifi just about blocks. Low kick answers back for Latifi as he eats a glancing right hand. Another big leg kick connects for Latifi. Flying knee again from Lewis but it doesn’t land properly this time and the Swede shoves him into the fence. Crowd begin to boo as the action slows down, but Lewis manages to turn him around before Latifi uses a bodylock to dump him to the ground in half-guard. Few short body punches land for the Swede from there but he isn’t being too active really. Crowd are hating this. Less than a minute to go and Miragliotta finally stands them back up, but Latifi dodges some strikes and somehow just THROWS Lewis down. That was some insane strength. Round ends with Latifi on top. 10-9 Latifi to even it up.

Round Three and both guys throw clubbing overhand rights that don’t land in the first exchange. Big right hand connects for Lewis but Latifi eats it up. Flying knee follows but allows Latifi to grab a clinch. Latifi looks for a takedown from there, and manages to dump Lewis to the ground in half-guard. Crowd are booing again as Latifi just works with short punches, but Lewis eventually turns his back to get to his feet. Flying knee again from Lewis and you can tell he’s getting urgent now, but Latifi clinches to slow him down. Latifi is insanely strong to be able to muscle Lewis around like this. Less than a minute to go and Latifi takes him down again, but Lewis pops up instantly and glances on a head kick. Clubbing punches have Latifi desperately grabbing for the clinch, and he manages to shove Lewis into the fence again. This time Lewis shakes him off though and wades in with another big right hand, then lands an uppercut. Crowd are going INSANE for Lewis as he tries to finish, but can’t manage it and the fight ends there. 10-9 Lewis for that final barrage, so 29-28 for him overall.

Judges have it 29-28 all round for Derrick Lewis. Bit of a weird opener as there was plenty of action, but it was mixed in with a lot of nothingness too. Not sure whether Latifi’s made the right move going to Heavyweight, but he should probably give it one more go I’d say. As for Lewis, it was a solid win but he never seems to change. That’s not necessarily bad per say, but it means he’ll likely never be a proper title threat.

Featherweight Fight: Mirsad Bektic vs Dan Ige

Hawaii’s Ige was coming off four straight wins prior to this, and so this was his chance to step up against Bektic, who hadn’t quite lived up to his potential in the UFC but was still 6-2 there overall. My pick here was Bektic as I’ve been a fan of his for a long time.

First round begins and they circle before Ige lands a jab. Brief exchange sees Ige connect on a left hook. Takedown attempt from Bektic but Ige blocks it, hits a brief takedown, and then lands a knee once they pop up. Ige’s striking is looking excellent thus far. Clinch from Ige and they trade blows before he gets a takedown, then hurts Bektic with some wild strikes as they pop up. Bektic recovers and circles out, but Ige lands another big combo on him that forces him to cover up. Big shots land from the clinch for Ige before they break. Another big combo lands for the Hawaiian. He’s destroying Bektic on the feet here. Two minutes remaining and they clinch up, with Ige again landing some heavy shots and blocking a takedown. Heavy left lands for Bektic, best shot thus far for him. Right hand follows and he blocks a combo. Clinch from the Hawaiian and he muscles Bektic into the fence. They exchange knees before breaking back off, and exchange until the round ends. 10-9 Ige.

Second round and Bektic comes out firing and lands a hard right hand. Ige flurries back at him but he eats an uppercut in the exchange. Flurry from Mirsad backs the Hawaiian up and he follows with a double leg and dumps him, but Ige goes for a guillotine. Bektic slips out and ends up in side mount, and from there he lands some knees to the body. Ige manages to spin and almost regains guard, but Bektic works really hard to keep him down. Good job from Ige to work to his feet, but Bektic stays on him and gets him down again. They go into a weird position and it looks like Ige might be looking for some kind of leglock or banana split, but Bektic avoids it and takes top position again, this time in half-guard. Looks like Bektic is setting up for an arm triangle, too. It looks tight and Mirsad really squeezes, then hops to mount for good measure. No idea how Ige is surviving this. Somehow Ige manages to free himself with about 45 seconds to go, but Bektic remains on top in guard. Kimura attempt from Ige fails as Bektic keeps top position, and the round ends shortly after. 10-9 Bektic in a brilliant round for him.

Third round and Ige pushes forward in the early going as Bektic stays on the outside. Decent right hand glances for Ige. Quick exchange sees both men land. Takedown attempt is blocked by Ige and they end up clinching, with the Hawaiian landing some elbows to the head to stop another attempt at the takedown. Ref calls a strange break and Ige tags Bektic with a right hand and blocks another takedown. Wild exchange sees both men land but Ige appears to have landed slightly harder. Nice combo fires back for Bektic though. Bektic has a small cut on his forehead. Big right hand connects for Ige. Single leg from Bektic puts him down, but Ige somehow steps over and almost gets an armbar before winding up on his back. Into half-guard for Bektic but Ige reverses to his feet. Bektic grabs a rear waistlock and looks to drag him back down, and they roll all over the place before Bektic gets a front headlock. He spins to take the back, and they scramble in the final seconds with Ige trying a leglock. Very tight round to score, probably 10-9 Ige for a 29-28, but you could maybe go 10-8 for Bektic in the second to make it a draw.

And it’s a split decision, 29-28 Bektic, 29-28 Ige, and 29-28 for Dan Ige to squeeze out the win. Well, by the 10-point must system the judges probably got that right, but in PRIDE rules Bektic wins for the dominant second round I guess. It was really close anyway and a great back-and-forth fight too. Difference on the feet appeared to be Ige’s power, and he did really well in shutting down Bektic’s wrestling too. Dude could turn into an unlikely contender at 145lbs.

Heavyweight Fight: Juan Adams vs Justin Tafa

Both of these two big guys were coming off KO losses, but Adams’ had been a bit ropey – a questionable call from the ref – while Tafa had outright been knocked silly by Yorgan De Castro. With Adams having a strong wrestling background too I was leaning towards him.

Fight begins and Adams presses forward quite tentatively. He appears to be extending his fingers towards Tafa too which is questionable. Decent combination lands for Adams in the early going. Couple of low kicks connect for Tafa. Adams comes back with one of his own as they trade low kicks, and suddenly Adams walks into a right hook that hurts him. Solid leg kick follows for Tafa and then he nails Adams with a right hand and WAYLAYS HIM with an uppercut! Adams goes crashing down and a few follow-up shots stiffen him up for a second.

Pretty brutal knockout as Adams just lacked the defense he really needed against a big puncher like that. Nothing more to say really as it was just two big dudes throwing bombs and Tafa landed first.

UFC Women’s World Flyweight Title: Valentina Shevchenko vs Katlyn Chookagian

After a whitewash over Liz Carmouche in her previous title defense, this one felt like business as usual again for Shevchenko, as Chookagian – a solid fighter no doubt – had got her shot at the gold off a bunch of tight-ish decisions, and as primarily a point-fighting striker I just didn’t see her having much for the champ.

Round One gets underway and they circle around and trade some feeler strikes without really landing anything of note in the first minute. Chookagian looks notably taller and longer. Left hand lands for Shevchenko as they come close to one another. Spinning backfist lands for the champ as Chookagian steps forward. Her timing is impeccable. Quick combo glances for Shevchenko. Low kick answers for the challenger. More strikes land for Shevchenko and she’s already looking more comfortable. Kick is caught by the champ and she dumps Chookagian onto her back in full guard. Chookagian goes totally defensive with a body triangle from the bottom, but it doesn’t stop Shevchenko from grinding with some elbows, one of which opens a bad cut over the left eye. Round ends soon after. 10-9 Shevchenko easily.

Round Two begins and Chookagian lands a decent leg kick in the early going. Body kick answers for Shevchenko. Spinning back kick lands for her too. Chookagian tries one of her own but it misses by a mile, and Shevchenko chops at her leg with a low kick. Beautiful counter left hook lands for the champ in an exchange. She’s so much quicker than Chookagian it’s insane. More of the same follows as Shevchenko continues to piece her up, and she even lands a spin kick to the head and an axe kick to follow. Easy takedown from Shevchenko into half-guard and this is looking like a total whitewash. Chookagian does defend pretty well from the bottom, but she’s just holding on really. She gets to full guard, but takes some more strikes and that’s the round. Another one in the books for the champ.

Round Three and Shevchenko opens with a sharp low kick and then a front kick to the body. Chookagian fires back with a body kick of her own and then a leg kick, and it looks like she’s going to show more aggression….so Shevchenko grabs her and dumps her to the ground. This time she moves right into side mount and locks up a mounted crucifix, and from there she channels her inner Matt Hughes and just DESTROYS Chookagian with elbows and punches for the stoppage.

Totally one-sided beating as Chookagian didn’t even come close to testing Shevchenko. To be honest I don’t think there’s anyone in the division who can test her right now, let alone beat her. It wouldn’t surprise me if she ended up breaking Demetrious Johnson’s record of title defenses actually, assuming she doesn’t look to move up in weight any time soon. Shit, she might be pound-for-pound the best female fighter in the world, even if she’s snacking on overmatched opponents for the most part.

UFC World Light-Heavyweight Title: Jon Jones vs Dominick Reyes

For me this was the first time I was really looking forward to a Jon Jones title defense since, well, his second fight with Daniel Cormier back in 2017. That was because unlike his most recent challengers Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos, I felt like Reyes had a real shot at pulling the upset as he was unbeaten, had run through a bunch of tough opponents in the UFC, and unlike those two he wasn’t coming up from 185lbs. In fact, as Jones hadn’t looked great in 2019 I was going for the upset and picking Reyes as the man to finally dethrone the champ.

First round begins and Reyes opens with a left hand and shrugs off a clinch. They trade low kicks and Reyes glances on a big left hook. Side kick to the knee lands for Jones. Head kick glances for Reyes but he eats a pair of leg kicks. Left hand gets through for Reyes and he backs the champ up and lands an uppercut. Right hook follows. Both guys are throwing a ton of low kicks in the early going and they’re clashing shins a lot. Reyes is moving around a ton here and he looks confident. Big left hand drops Jones for a second but he was off balance and pops right back up. Heavy combo follows for the challenger though and Jones has to back right up. Body kick into a left hand from Reyes! Body shot fires back for Jones but Reyes lands the left again. Jones appears to be struggling a bit with the fact that Reyes has a similar reach. Decent head kick and a body kick land for Reyes and he backs Jones up with some punches. Head kick glances for Jones. Seconds to go and he’s pressuring Reyes back a bit more now. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Reyes for me.

Second round and Reyes opens with two lefts to the body and a low kick. Body kick follows as Jones begins to walk him down a bit. Reyes is just hitting and moving though. Good body kick from Jones but Reyes lands with a flurry and backs him up to the point where he outright runs! Didn’t look like anything heavy landed though and Jones manages to circle out. Hard low kick lands for Reyes. Couple of side kicks to the leg answer for Jones. Left hand counter lands for the champ as Reyes throws a low kick. Beautiful shovel hook lands for Reyes and he connects on a couple of body punches too. Left hook responds for Jones. He continues to walk Reyes down, but he’s still behind in terms of strikes landed I’d say. Combo glances for Reyes. Stiff left hand connects for Jones. Reyes comes back with some punches of his own but Jones’ defense is really good and he’s not getting hurt. Hard lefts land for both men. Nice side kick to the body from Jones but Reyes comes back with a sharp combo. Jones backs up to avoid a follow-up, but takes a hard low kick. Round ends just after. 10-9 Reyes again for me!

Third round and hilariously one of Jones’ cornermen offers one word of advice: LION. Heavy leg kicks open the round for both men before Reyes cracks Jones with a head kick. Jones does have an amazing chin as he doesn’t even appear to be hurt. Quick combo follows for the challenger. Lunging counter right and a body kick land for Reyes but Jones is walking him down again. Right hand bloodies Reyes’ nose but he fires back with a flurry that forces the champ to retreat. Reyes is still striking and moving even as Jones backs him up. Clean low kick lands for Jones. Couple more kicks glance for him. Nice low kick from Reyes but Jones is pouring the pressure on now. Uppercut connects well for the challenger though. Head kick glances for Jones. Takedown attempt now from Jones but Reyes does a TREMENDOUS job to shrug it off! Crowd love that one and Reyes separates with an elbow. He’s looking tired now but his pace hasn’t slowed down yet. Big body kick from Reyes as he backs Jones up for a moment, but the champ quickly gets back to walking him down. Punches glance for Jones before a body shot answers for Reyes. Left hand also connects for him. Round ends though with Jones pouring the forward pressure on with a takedown attempt on the buzzer. Close round but I’d go 10-9 Reyes, meaning Jones needs a finish!

Fourth round and Reyes is breathing HEAVILY. He comes out firing some early strikes and then lands a big flurry, and Jones has to back up big time! Clinch from Jones manages to slow him down, but a trip fails. Jones goes for it again and gets him down, but he pops up only for the champ to get him down again. Reversal puts Reyes back up but Jones is still on him. They trade knees to the body and Reyes manages to break off. Jones pressures forward again but he’s bleeding from the nose now too. Nasty low kick lands for the champ. Big takedown attempt follows but Reyes somehow defends it again. This time Jones gets a rear waistlock and then lands an elbow as the challenger breaks. Couple of body shots land for Reyes. Hard leg kick from Jones. This is a great fight. Exchange continues and Jones keeps on walking Reyes down, but Reyes is firing right back. Big elbow lands for Jones though. Reyes has the heart of a lion as he’s exhausted but keeps moving. Left lands for Jones but Reyes fires back with some shots of his own. Head kick from Jones. Seconds remaining and Jones continues to advance, but he’s not really hurting the challenger. Uppercut into a left hook connects for Reyes but Jones catches him clean with a left hook as the round ends. Closest one to call yet, probably 10-9 Jones for the forward motion and grappling exchanges.

Fifth round and Reyes opens with a glancing left hand. Uppercut follows but Jones dodges it just about. Good low kick from the challenger but Jones gets in on a deep double leg and gets him down. Reyes works onto his knees right away but gives his back, only to stand anyway. Jones stays on him and looks to get him down again, but Reyes blocks and they end up along the fence before breaking. Nice punches from Jones put some pressure on and he lands an elbow, but Reyes glances on a combo to circle free. Jones just keeps on walking him down though. Nasty body kick lands for Jones. Beautiful left into an elbow from the champ as Reyes tries to fire back but doesn’t land cleanly. Another big body kick lands for Jones and he’s taking over this round big time. More strikes connect for Jones but Reyes keeps on moving and he isn’t getting badly hurt or anything. Hard left hand lands for the challenger to counter a low kick. Few jabs get through for Reyes and Jones has one minute to really hurt him in this round. More low kicks from Jones connect and he keeps on backing Reyes up, but with seconds to go the challenger starts to fire back a little more. Round ends on the feet and it’s got to be 10-9 Jones, but I’d score this 48-47 for Reyes overall.

Official stats appear to show Reyes with an advantage in the first three rounds, which basically ties in with my scores. Judges however go 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 (!) in favour of Jon Jones.

Well, I’m sorry but that’s a terrible decision. 49-46 in particular is bullshit as there’s just no way Jones won either of the first two rounds. I’ve watched this fight three times now and just can’t understand how Jones took the first or second and while the third was debatable, so was the fourth too. I just feel like the idea of having to “beat the champ” more than you would another fighter to win is nonsense and Reyes clearly should be holding the gold right now.

Usually after such a close – and fantastic – fight, the UFC would go with an immediate rematch, but that’s obviously up in the air right now due to Jones’ feuding with the promotion. I’m actually tempted to say that he’s playing up to avoid fighting Reyes again after watching this. Still can’t stand the guy even though he’s a great fighter, sorry. And yeah, this was the best LHW title fight since the first Jones/Gustafsson one for me, but the decision left a sour taste for sure.

-Show ends with the announcers discussing the judging and it feels like Joe Rogan definitely felt Reyes should’ve won. Highlight reel then rolls, and that’s that.

Final Thoughts….

This was actually a better show than I initially remembered – main event was great even with that dodgy decision, Ige/Bektic was a fantastic fight overall and Tafa/Adams had a cool finish. Shevchenko/Chookagian was a total squash but it wasn’t bad, which just leaves the slow-paced opener bringing things down slightly. Thumbs up then, and it’s worth checking this out on Fight Pass, if only to make your own call on Jones/Reyes.

Best Fight: Ige vs. Bektic
Worst Fight: Lewis vs. Latifi

Overall Rating: ****

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com