Thursday, October 22, 2020

UFC 247: Immediate rematch is a bad strategy for Reyes

After UFC 247 this past week many people are calling for an instant rematch after Dominick Reyes took the fight to Jon Jones in a fashion that saw him come within a round of capturing the Light Heavyweight title.

Reyes would be the Light Heavyweight champion right now if it weren’t for an issue that has been a pattern in previous fights. That issue is the steep drop off in volume after round 2 and not being able to manage his output over longer contests as I mentioned in my pre-fight article.

Now don’t get me wrong, I was very impressed with Reyes’s performance however unlike a lot of people I really had no issue with the judge’s decision. The fight was close and really, the only round that is even up for debate is round 3.

In round 3 while Reyes outstruck Jones marginally by 5, Jones was the aggressor from the start, he had to take 3 back steps in the first 2 minutes and then was instantly pressing again. Jones only took 2 more backward steps in that entire round which is significant when it comes to judging.

The judges do not have the fight stats during the contest, so they are scoring the fight as they can physically see it. I just watched the third round again with no sound and if you don’t know from the fight metrics (which the judges don’t) how many strikes have been landed etc, you would not know that Reyes was 5 strikes up on Jones, so when it comes to the judging, fight metrics are really irrelevant when it is that close.

UFC rematch

Jones pressured for 80% or more of that round, he was the clear aggressor for the majority of round 3 that is why the judges scored in his favour. Couple that with the fact that Jones clearly won rounds 4 and 5 and you have a decision that is not as controversial as some have alluded to.

However, it doesn’t really matter how anyone else or I else scored the fight, we can debate this all day, it does not change the fact that Jon Jones has got another title defence to his name.

The record books will not show how close the fight was, whether the judges got it wrong or how the crowd reacted to the decision, the record will simply show that Jones on that night did enough to retain his belt.

In order to beat the Champion, you can’t just be as good, you have to be better and I do not believe that Reyes was better in rounds 3 through 5.

Many people including Dana White are calling for an immediate rematch, and as I mentioned the fight was pretty much as close as you can get. I am not disputing that Reyes deserves a rematch, he absolutely does, and he will likely get one. However, I do not believe this is the smart thing for Reyes to do right now.

So far Jon Jones has been unbeaten (save for the DQ against Hamill), but Jones has looked particularly good in rematches. The two Jones fights that were deemed very close prior to UFC 247 were eventually matched up again.

Jones removed all doubt from the initial contests by finishing Gustafsson and Cormier, and he looked very good in both of those rematches.

In those rematches, it was as though he had his opponents figured out from the first meeting and made short work of them. The Cormier fight was turned over to a no contest in the end but on the night Jones still looked unstoppable in that rematch.

Taking the failed test out of that one for a moment, it was the fact that Jones spotted a pattern that allowed the head kick over anything else, which was the deciding factor in that fight.

The fact that Reyes only has 13 fights is the reason I am against him accepting an immediate rematch with Jones. Right now, Reyes stock has gone up, he took the fight to Jones and almost won, there is no shame at this point in his career having 1 loss to the greatest Light heavyweight of all time.

However, right now, I do not see a rematch going his way. Jones’s fight IQ may well be the highest in the sport, he is cerebral, and he figures people out. Right now, an immediate rematch does not allow Reyes to add enough new looks to his repertoire to realistically make the fight go any differently.

If they rematch in 2 months’ time my prediction is that Jones will win by stoppage, in round 2 or 3. Reyes will most likely come out looking the same, Jones has seen this now, he has spotted patterns and as with Gustafsson and Cormier before him in an instant rematch, Reyes will likely be on the wrong end of a finish. Once you have lost to the champion twice, especially in a row, a third fight is a hard sell.

This would leave Reyes in a very tough position that I think he could avoid by simply taking a couple more fights then looking for the rematch once he has really worked on managing that output. That being said, the strategy of taking a couple more fights and then going for the rematch with Jones is not without risks in a division where the top ten is a veritable murderers row.

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