This Saturday UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will defend his belt against the outspoken contender Dominick Reyes, it is a fight which holds a fair amount of hype within the MMA community as Reyes seems to be one of the more credible threats that Jones has faced in a long time… however, for a man who has faced some of the greatest names in the history of the division, this could be the most important fight of Jones’ career.
In another article I penned a few months back, I discussed why we may be about to see the best version of Jon Jones to set foot in the octagon in a very long time. He has seemed far more motivated and invested in this fight with Reyes than he was for either Anthony Smith or Thiago Santos – against both of which he put in slightly disappointing performances.
That is not to slight either Smith or Santos, both men fought the best fight of their careers and impressed massively, however the Jon Jones they faced was not the man we knew once upon a time. Before the various PED test failures.
This is the key to the legacy of Jon Jones – all of his achievements before this latest run are tainted, with fans questioning if ‘Bones’ used performance enhancers throughout the early stages of his career, before the UFC entered their agreement with USADA. Despite his protests, denials that he would ever knowingly use PEDs, Jones hasn’t looked the same when testing… clean.
The key for this fight against Reyes comes as Jones seems to be the most motivated that we have seen him in a very long time, potentially since his second fight against Cormier. However Jones has also shown the ruthless and confident side that propped up so much of his first title run, the side of him that bragged about the fact he defeated Daniel Cormier following a night of partying and cocaine consumption.
If Jones can step into the cage this weekend and dominate Reyes, beating him in a convincing fashion, it may put to bed some of the questions around the legitimacy of his previous reigns. However if he turns out and once again puts in a performance below the standards people have begun to expect of him… he risks losing his title as well as his legacy.
Jon Jones could well be one of the greatest fighters in this history of MMA, however this weekend, he has to prove exactly why people make that argument for him. Coming into the fight clean, after being subjected to 42 USADA tests over the past year… this is his chance to prove he is THAT damn good. If he fails to do so… well… it could turn out the Cormier was the better fighter after all.