HOUSTON — Jon Jones‘ fight strategy isn’t limited to what happens inside the Octagon.
The UFC light heavyweight champion revealed during media day for UFC 247 that there was a game plan behind picking Dominick Reyes for Saturday’s title defense. Jones previously had said he picked Reyes because he and his coaches decided Reyes was the most dangerous opponent, but there was more to the decision.
“There’s a little strategy behind it,” Jones said. “I feel like a guy that’s so young in Dominick Reyes (30), he’s only going to get better. He’s so new in the game. I want to take him out while he’s still fairly inexperienced. I think we all know that I do better in rematches. So when he does come back, hopefully I can [beat] him in even more dominating fashion than I will Saturday.”
It could be a benchmark fight for Jones, who is tied with Khabib Nurmagomedov atop ESPN’s pound-for-pound rankings. With a victory, Jones will have the most title fight wins in UFC history. He is currently tied with Georges St-Pierre at 13. Jones also has a chance to tie Demetrious Johnson‘s record for most UFC title defenses (11).
Jones (25-1, 1 NC) has never been beaten inside the Octagon. His only loss was via disqualification for illegal elbow strikes in 2009. Since then, the New Mexico resident is unbeaten in 17 straight fights. Jones, 32, has the most wins in UFC light heavyweight history with 19.
Reyes (12-0), ESPN’s No. 4-ranked light heavyweight, has won all six of his UFC fights, four by finish. But this is his first time on a stage this big and his first shot at a title. The California native is a big underdog, but has the athleticism and power in his hands to give Jones a run. Jones, though, has no plans on letting anyone take his throne. Not now or anytime soon.
“I want to be the champion for the next decade,” Jones said.
In the co-main event, another dominant champion in Valentina Shevchenko will attempt to extend her winning streak against challenger Katlyn Chookagian. Shevchenko (18-3) has won four straight with two title defenses. She is the only women’s flyweight champion the UFC has even known. Shevchenko, 31, has only lost in the UFC to featherweight and bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes. Chookagian (13-2) has won five of her past six fights. The 31-year-old New Jersey native is 6-2 in the UFC.
Also on the card, Houston resident Derrick Lewis faces Ilir Latifi in a heavyweight matchup, rising featherweights Mirsad Bektic and Dan Ige clash and Andrea Lee and Lauren Murphy battle in the women’s flyweight division.
First fight :
Men’s featherweight: Austin Lingo (7-0, -210) vs. Youssef Zalal (7-2, +175)
Still to come:
• Light heavyweight: Jon Jones (c) (25-1, 1 NC, -550) vs. Dominick Reyes (12-0, +375)
• Flyweight: Valentina Shevchenko (c) (18-3, -1200) vs. Katlyn Chookagian (13-2, +750)
• Heavyweight: Juan Adams (5-2, -220) vs. Justin Tafa (3-1, +180)
• Men’s featherweight: Mirsad Bektić (13-2, -145) vs. Dan Ige (12-2, +115)
• Heavyweight: Derrick Lewis (22-7, -250) vs. Ilir Latifi (15-7, +200)
• Middleweight: Trevin Giles (11-2, -110) vs. James Krause (27-8, -120)
• Women’s flyweight: Lauren Murphy (11-4, +280) vs. Andrea Lee (11-3, -360)
• Welterweight: Alex Morono (17-5, -310) vs. Kalinn Williams (9-1, +250)
• Men’s bantamweight: Miles Johns (10-0, -135) vs. Mario Bautista (7-1, +105)
• Men’s bantamweight: Journey Newson (9-2, +110) vs. Domingo Pilarte (8-2, -140)
• Men’s bantamweight: Andre Ewell (15-6, -130) vs. Jonathan Martinez (11-2, +100)