Jon Jones had his hand raised to end UFC 247, but the final takeaway from a fantastic fight was the questionable scoring system from the judges.
Dominick Reyes took Jones to the limit, nearly dethroning one of the greatest fighters in the history of mixed martial arts. Yet Jones won the fight by unanimous decision, even though the first three rounds appeared to belong to Reyes.
With the victory, Jones retained the Light Heavyweight Championship and now has the most championship wins in UFC history. But Reyes gave Jones constant problems, delivering strikes, maintaining constant movement and imposing an aggressive pace. Reyes never slowed down and forced Jones to fight on his feet, using a combination of sheer will and outrageous cardio to stand up immediately after Jones’ takedowns.
The fight shifted in the championship rounds, as Jones controlled the center of the Octagon in rounds four and five. But whether it was enough to win the five-round fight will be an endless source of debate. The performance is certainly enough to earn Reyes a rematch, especially if Jones stays true to his word and remains in the light heavyweight division.
The most spectacular performance of the night was from Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko, who was brilliant in her destruction of Katlyn Chookagian.
Shevchenko was victorious in the third round by TKO following a stoppage from the crucifix position on the ground, but the outcome was never in doubt. She used her footwork, power, striking and judo all to her advantage, and Chookagian (13-3) was simply no match.
The win marked the fifth straight for Shevchenko (19-3), and she will continue to look for a challenge after demolishing Chookagian.
Much to the delight of the crowd in Houston, Derrick Lewis won the opening fight against Ilir Latifi by unanimous decision.
Lewis (22-7-1) finished the fight with a late onslaught on Latifi (14-8-1), who withstood the punishment but could not generate enough offense for the judges to award him one of the rounds. Despite the loss, it was still a solid showing for Latifi in his heavyweight debut.
The main card also featured a flyweight fight pitting Dan Ige against Mirsad Bektic. Ige won the fight by split decision in a bout that could have gone either way. Ige (13-2) dictated the pace in the opening round before Bektic (13-3) controlled the second round with his takedowns, but Ige’s striking and power were the difference in round three. That marks the fifth consecutive win for Ige, who now looks to climb the featherweight rankings.
The card included a second heavyweight fight, which saw Justin Tafa quickly end Juan Adams’ night courtesy of an explosive right hand. Tafa (4-1) used a hook/uppercut combination for the TKO victory in a fight that lasted only 119 seconds.
Adams (5-3) has now lost three in a row. In a heavyweight division desperately seeking stars, Tafa will be given the chance to rise up among the ranks against more top-tier opponents.
As expected, the focus of UFC 247 was Shevchenko’s brilliance and whether Jones could avoid suffering an upset from an incredibly talented opponent in Reyes. That is exactly how the card played out, with Jones staving off defeat. Reyes certainly made a case for a victory after executing on such a high level in the first three rounds, and Jones, even as one of the greatest of all time, was fortunate that the judges scored the fight in the manner they did.
Jones remains the champion, but a rematch with Reyes is looming.
Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes – 12:32 a.m. ET
Dominick Reyes went the distance, but he was unable to dethrone Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones.
Jones (26-1, 1 NC) won by unanimous decision, but the fight was incredibly close. Reyes (12-1) needed a strong start, which was exactly what he delivered in the opening round. He came out aggressive and threw constant pressure, but Jones withstood all of the punishment.
Reyes was hungry and kept an intense pace for the first three rounds, but that changed in the final two rounds. Rounds four and five were the championship rounds that won Jones the fight, which is Jones’ domain and foreign territory for Reyes.
The cerebral nature of Jones was on display, committing to a game plan and taking the early punishment. He was far more methodical than Reyes. By round three, Jones controlled the center of the Octagon, though Reyes continued to keep the pace. Reyes thought he won the first three rounds, though Jones’ performance made a legitimate claim for winning the third round.
Reyes now takes away some important lessons in succeeding a five-round championship fight, but his elite cardio and sheer will were incredible. Even in defeat, Reyes proved he belongs among the elite in the UFC.
With the win, Jones now has the most championship wins in UFC history.
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Katlyn Chookagian – 11:55 p.m. ET
Flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko continues to set a new standard of greatness.
Shevchenko successfully defended her Flyweight Championship, defeating Katlyn Chookagian in the third round by TKO following a stoppage from the crucifix position on the ground. The performance by Shevchenko was dominant, and her judo, striking, takedowns, and jiu-jitsu are all so much further advanced than her opponents in the weight class.
The victory is the fifth straight for Shevchenko (19-3), who becomes more unstoppable with each win. Chookagian (13-3) ended the first round covered in blood after taking the blow of a Shevchenko elbow, and she never mounted any significant offense.
Advantages for Shevchenko included timing, speed, footwork and power. She landed nearly 70% of her shots in the second round, and Chookagian was bound to break due to the constant pressure. Chookagian also had no answer for Shevchenko’s kickboxing, or Shevchenko altogether. She did absorb a lot of punishment, but this fight belonged entirely to Shevchenko.
Juan Adams vs. Justin Tafa — 11:43 p.m. ET
Justin Tafa knocks out Juan Adams in the opening round, picking up the biggest win of his career.
Tafa (4-1) delivered a right hook into a right uppercut combination that finished Adams’ night. Tafa showed precision in his punches and an incredible amount of power, and he was a step ahead of Adams (5-3) in the fight, which was over in under two minutes. The loss is especially painful for Adams, as it marks his third consecutive defeat.
The heavyweight division is in need of stars, and it will be worth watching to see where Tafa goes from here.
Mirsad Bektic vs. Dan Ige — 11:22 p.m. ET
Mirsad Bektic and Dan Ige went a full three rounds, with judges scoring a split decision victory for Ige.
The win is the fifth straight for Ige (13-2), who has never been finished in the UFC. The first round belonged to Ig, who landed the bigger power shots, but Bektic (13-3) controlled the second with his takedowns. Ige’s striking and power were again advantages in the third round, and he won that round in a decision that could have gone either way.
Ige will use the win as a springboard to elevate himself in the Featherweight rankings.
Derrick Lewis vs. Ilir Latifi — 10:48 p.m. ET
Ilir Latifi and Derrick Lewis went the distance in the opening fight on the main card, with Lewis winning by unanimous decision.
Latifi (14-8-1) came close to victory in his heavyweight debut, taking Lewis down throughout the fight. Latifi survived a late onslaught, absorbing a number of punishing shots from Lewis (22-7-1), but that finishing sequence may have altered the judges’ cards. That fight should have been judged, at the very least, a split decision, as Latifi controlled round two and gave Lewis problems throughout the fight.
Lewis' victory brought the crowd back to life at the Toyota Center in Houston, with the fans firmly behind Lewis the entire way.
Pre-Fight — 10:10 p.m. ET
Jon Jones faces a very real challenge at UFC 247, as the undefeated Dominick Reyes looks to dethrone the reigning Light Heavyweight Champion.
Jones (25-1-1) has been the subject of controversy throughout his entire fighting career, but there is no argument about his place in the sport. He is one of the greatest to ever enter the cage, and he is on the short list of most elite pound-for-pound active fighters. Reyes (12-0) is inexperienced in comparison to Jones, but his boxing ability will present a real test for Jones.
The card’s other title fight is Women’s Flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko defending her title against Katlyn Chookagian. Shevchenko (18-3) has won her last four fights, and every indication is that she will continue her dominance with an impressive performance against Chookagian (13-2). Can Chookagian last more than three rounds against Shevchenko? Once this fight hits the mat, it should be a decisive ground-and-pound victory for Shevchenko.
Featherweight Mirsad Bektic will also fight Dan Ige. Bektic (13-2) is still searching for his defining moment in the UFC, and a victory against Ige (12-2), who has won his past four fights, could be that opportunity. The card also features two heavyweight fights, with Derrick Lewis (22-7-1) seeking an opening-round knockout against Ilir Latifi (14-7-1), and Juan Adams (5-2) looking to avoid a devastating third straight loss in his fight against Justin Tafa (3-1).
But the spotlight for UFC 247 is firmly on Jones and Reyes.
In order to win the fight, Jones will need to take the fight to the mat and use his grappling skills. A victory by Reyes would shock the fight world and crown a new Light Heavyweight champ, but Jones is unaccustomed to defeat. The question surrounding this fight is whether Jones further enhances his legacy with another win, or if Reyes can disrupt the hierarchy in the Light Heavyweight division.