There was something different about Jon Jones at the UFC press conference this past weekend, he had an edge that we haven’t seen since he made his return to to Octagon. It felt like we were seeing the old Jon Jones, albeit it looking slightly more like your a rich uncle than we’re used to.
At his peak Jon Jones was one of the greatest fighters that the sport of MMA has ever seen, while there are people who will point to his recent issues with USADA as the reason for this, there is more to it than that. The reason Jon Jones was so good and why so many fans got behind him is because he would beat fighters at their own game. You’re a striker? Alright, Jones will stand with you and beat you on the feet. Wrestler? He’ll take you down and beat you on the mat. Submission specialist? He’ll make you tap.
That is what made Jon Jones great, he took pleasure in beating people at their own game. It was an extremely risky strategy, which led to a couple of close calls, but that was how he would motivate himself and get invested in fights. He was hungry, looking to prove himself, having fun. Since he has come back, we haven’t really seen that from Jones. He has been much more mild, mellow, he has shown a higher degree of respect to his opponents. He has become the man that people expected him to be for a long time. But he’s lost that edge that made him so great.
How great is Jon Jones?
Going into his fights against Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos most fans were expecting him to absolutely smoke both fighters. We all thought that Jones was a tier above the rest, but they made him look entirely human. Was it because he was using PEDs pre-USADA? Or was it because he didn’t care enough about the guys that he was fighting, he wasn’t invested enough in the fights? We’re about to find out.
Jones wants Reyes. He wants him bad. It’s the first time we’ve seen this side of Jones since he came back to fight Daniel Cormier in 2016 and I love it. Just take a look at some of his comments in the press conference and you’ll see exactly what I mean. It’s vintage Jones; cocky, confident, brutal.
“You’re a pawn in this game, I’ve been saying it a long time. Like (Daniel Cormier), like all of them, you’re a pawn in this game. You’re just a piece in the puzzle. I’m trying to be great, bro, and you’re just a part of it. You’re just a small part of it.”
“You’re the one? You knocked out Chris Weidman. He’s been knocked out so many times. Good job,” Jones said. “I don’t have to knock out people. I don’t have to knock out people. The only way you can possibly win this fight is to catch me with a left. We all know that. I could submit you, I could out-wrestle you, I can kickbox you to death. I’m going to get you. I’m going to get you, Dominick. You know it. You’re a one-trick pony. We saw your highlight reel. It was straight left, straight left, straight left.”
If that wasn’t enough to get you interested in the fight, Jones went even further. He would go on to explain why Reyes has gotten under his skin and drawn this reaction out of him, saying:
“Dominick wins his last fight, from out of nowhere, we’ve never met in person, I’ve never shaken the guy’s hand, and then the guy, instead of being just cordial or being a martial artist or showing a degree of respect, he gets on the microphone, young and immature, and goes, ‘I don’t need party favors; I need the world title.’ That’s how it started,” Jones said. “But it’s all good. We’re here now. He got what he asked for, and I’m going to put my hands on him, and it’s going to be great.”
“I know nothing about him, honestly,” Jones added. “I know nothing about him. I see the games that he wants to play with the insults, and I don’t really care. I don’t really care at the end of the day. My job is to destroy this dude and start focusing on 2020. I’m going to have a great 2020, and it’s going to start off by destroying Dominick. I don’t know what I want to do to him. I don’t know if I want to knock him out, choke him out, but oh, dude, I’m going to get him. I’m going to get him. I promise you guys.”
As a fan of the sport, the prospect of seeing Jon Jones back at his peak is extremely exciting. Whether you love or hate the guy it can be hard to deny that he is one of the best fighters of all time. Going into his fight with Reyes displaying this kind of edge gives him a chance to diminish some of the black marks that have been held against his record following his positive tests.
Jones and Reyes are set to face off at UFC 247 in February, in what has the potential to be one of the more explosive title fights of 2020. Check back in our combat sports sections for updates on upcoming events and more content like this.