Jon Jones will make his long-awaited return to the UFC on Saturday, March 4 when he faces Cyril Gane for the vacant UFC Heavyweight Championship. The fight will take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. ESPN+ PPV will handle the broadcast of the main card beginning at 10 p.m. ET.
Jones (26-1-1) is a -165 favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook. A former UFC Light Heavyweight champion, Jones has been widely considered the most skilled and talented MMA fighter in the history of the promotion. His return gives the UFC a major boost of star power after losing popular fighters like most recent heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (contract dispute) and Nate Diaz (contract expired) and the inactivity of Conor McGregor.
Well, the fight begins Saturday, it will have been over three years since Jones’ last UFC fight when he beat Dominick Reyes by unanimous decision to successfully defend the UFC Light Heavyweight championship at UFC 247 in Houston on February 8, 2020. Jones was a -450 favorite going into the fight.
Reyes, who was 12-0 at the time, quickly showed he wasn’t intimidated by Jones' reputation and went for the clinch and some bodywork. Jones stuck with his usual game plan of low kicks. Reyes landed the first big punches of the fight, sending Jones down with a left and staggering him with another left. It was an excellent display of kickboxing from Reyes in the first round with Jones never able to get on track.
The challenger continued the pressure in the second round, but he was swinging a little more wildly and Jones was starting to move his head off the centerline much more effectively. At this point, the work Jones had done with low kicks and body kicks showed their effect. The champion was also beginning to walk Reyes down, even though he took a couple of hard strikes to end the round.
Facing the possibility of losing the first two rounds, Jones focused on advancing and forcing Reyes to land strikes while backing up. Despite this Reyes is landing punches and managing to defend a slight uptick in activity from Jones. Reyes caps off a solid third round with a nice body shot and a couple of successful takedown stuffs. Jones still seemed to be searching for answers.
Reyes opens the fourth round strong and now Jones is beginning to realize that he cannot win a striking contest with Reyes, so he begins to search for a chance to take the fight to the ground. Jones lands a nasty low kick that almost took Reyes to the canvas. Reyes continues to stuff Jones’ takedown attempts and lands a solid combination that gets Jones’ nose bleeding. Jones, however, continues to stalk Reyes around the octagon and Reyes is starting to look uncomfortable.
Jones continued advancing in the fifth round and Reyes continues to land with counters and quick combinations. The champion, however, is walking through the strikes now. He is also beginning to hit more of his signature offense, including a spinning back kick. Jones is applying a lot of pressure on the challenger with his kicks and Reyes seems to be holding on and hoping he has three rounds in the bank already.
We go to the scorecards and Jones won by unanimous decision with the scores 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46. The response to the decision was swift — with the majority of other fighters and fans feeling as if Reyes won the fight. 14 of the 21 media members at ringside felt like Reyes won the fight.