Dominick Reyes is the latest light heavyweight in line to vie for Jon Jones' title, with the pair set to contest the main event of UFC 247 in Houston on Saturday.
Jones is one of the most dominant forces in the history of the sport. He's taken out every conceivable threat in the light heavyweight division during his career. Now he's set his sights on the undefeated Reyes, who will be trying to find a way to pierce the champion's armor.
The card boasts another title fight in the co-main event. Valentina Shevchenko and Katlyn Chookagian square off in the penultimate bout, with Shevchenko's flyweight belt on the line.
The main card is rounded out by two intriguing heavyweight bouts and prospect Mirsad Bektic's return from his loss to Josh Emmett.
Main Card (ESPN+ PPV, 10 p.m. ET)
- Jon Jones (c) (-450) vs. Dominick Reyes (+325) for the light heavyweight title
- Valentina Shevchenko (c) (-1400) vs. Katlyn Chookagian (+800) for the women's flyweight title
- Juan Adams (-220) vs. Justin Tafa (+180)
- Mirsad Bektic (-145) vs. Dan Ige (+115)
- Derrick Lewis (-270) vs. Ilir Latifi (+220)
Preliminaries (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET)
- Trevin Giles (-140) vs. Antonio Arroyo (+110)
- Alex Morono (-280) vs. Kalinn Williams (+230)
- Lauren Murphy (+280) vs. Andrea Lee (-360)
- Miles Johns (-135) vs. Mario Bautista (+105)
Early Prelims (ESPN+, 6:15 p.m. ET)
- Domingo Pilarte (-140) vs. Journey Newson (+110)
- Andre Ewell (-130) vs. Jonathan Martinez (+100)
- Austin Lingo (-210) vs. Yousseff Zalal (+175)
Odds via Caesars Palace.
Jones Schools Reyes
There's a school of thought out there that Reyes is the kind of athlete who could give Jones problems. After Jones narrowly won a split-decision over Thiago Santos last time out, it's conceivable that the champion has lost a step.
Reyes has some things going for him that make things interesting. He has size. At 6'4" with a 77" reach, he's the rare opponent who won't be dwarfed by Bones. His undefeated record means he comes in without the doubts that suffering a loss brings.
That's where the case ends.
At this point, Jones has muted about every argument we have seen play out in the Octagon against him. Big powerful strikers? Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort. Great wrestlers? Daniel Cormier, Rashad Evans. Long, rangy fighters? Alexander Gustafsson, Santos.
The list goes on.
What Reyes brings to the table isn't anything we haven't seen thrown at Jones. The great unknown for Jones remains heavyweight. Until he moves up a weight class, it's hard to predict anything other than pain for whoever crosses his path at 205.
Prediction: Jones via third-round TKO.
Shevchenko Submits Chookagian
Shevchenko has lost to one woman in the UFC: Amanda Nunes.
There's no shame in that. Everyone has lost to the Lioness.
Bullet's versatility is what sets her apart. She's able to finish fight on the feet, outpoint opponents in a kickboxing match or dominate in the clinch. Her most used method of victory through her career is submission.
Chookagian is a fine striker. She generally looks to keep fighters on the outside and is technically sound enough to get the better of most fighters. But with Shevchenko's counter-striking ability, that's not going to be a viable method of victory. Instead, it's likely that Chookagian catches her with something big when she's coming in and looks to finish on the ground.
From there, Shevchenko's ground game should shine. She jumps on a rear-naked choke and gets her hand raised with the belt once again.
Prediction: Shevchenko via second-round submission.
Bektic Gets Back in Win Column via Decision
The Mirsad Bektic story has been one of frustration and disappointment to this point.
At one point, Bektic was one of the most hyped prospects in the featherweight division. Three years later, he has just five fights under his belt because of injuries, and two of those resulted in TKO losses.
That includes a first-round TKO defeat to Emmett last time out.
In the other corner stands Dan Ige, a fighter who has defied expectations of late. The 28-year-old got into the UFC after a submission win on Dana White's Contender Series and lost his UFC debut to Julio Arce. Since then, he's rattled off four wins in a row.
Bektic will be the biggest challenge he's seen in the organization, though. The Bosnian is an exceptional athlete and is able to build a lead on the scorecard behind his volume. But if Bektic's chin is fading, this could be an upset. What is more likely is that he's able to utilize his wrestling and athletic advantage to get a decision victory to return to winning ways.
Prediction: Bektic via decision.