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UFC 247: Jones vs. Reyes Pick

MMA Fight: UFC 247: Jones vs. Reyes
Key Matches: Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes
When: Saturday, February 8, 2020
Time: 11PM EST
Where: Toyota Arena, Houston, Texas
TV: PPV

by Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Jon Jones, (-500), 25-1 (10 KOs, 6 Submissions) vs. Dominick Reyes, (+350), 12-0 (7 KOs, 2 Submissions)

UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon "Bones" Jones takes on unbeaten challenger Dominick Reyes in the UFC 247 main event in Houston on February 8. For Jones, he is back where he should be—fighting actively in defense of his title. He is well-favored here against the lesser-known Reyes, but with the challenger being unbeaten and dangerous, we can't ever be sure what to expect. We think we know, but we don't really know, as Reyes' actual limitations have not yet been exposed. Will Jones put another notch on his belt as he marches toward some super-fights? Or will Reyes give him a run for his money?

In October, Reyes confirmed his contender status with a first-round KO of former champ Chris Weidman. It was his 6th win in the UFC, as the California desert native has come out of nowhere with a string of wins that have him on the precipice of big things. Offering even more hope is Jones' last fight—a difficult split decision win over Thiago Santos. While no one is discussing that as a sign of Jones' erosion as a fighter, maybe it warrants a closer look.

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At 32, Jones has been at the top for the better part of a decade and no one goes on forever. Outside the octagon issues have made the time he first achieved stardom up until to now a tough road. On one hand, every fighter is entitled to an off-night and at the end of the day, Jones still won. Reyes hasn't dominated every fight either, most notably his controversial decision win over Volkan Oezdemir. So close fights happen and I'm not sure I would use that fight to give Reyes' chances here a substantial boost.

Jones is widely considered the best to ever do it. His list of wins is a who's-who of top 205-pounders in the history of the sport. His assets are well-known. He is as strong as they come. He can wrestle like a demon and kickbox like nobody's business. Jones is also ruthless. On top of that, he is a master of range, which is bad news for opponents, as Jones' 84-inch reach is the envy of even heavyweights. He is simply a gigantic 205-pounder and he has never been righteously beaten in his long career.

Reyes' challenge is not without merit. That's especially the case if you feel that Jones has perhaps grown a little ripe. And with Jones' sights set on the heavyweight division, could he be overlooking some of these challengers? Let's face it, the 205-pound division is in a state of some turnover and not a lot of these guys are going to light Jones' competitive fires. And Reyes might be outgunned across several areas in this fight, but he's certainly not a fighter to take lightly.

At 30, Reyes matches up decently with Jones, equaling the champ's height at six-four, yet suffering a reach deficit of at least 7 inches. When looking for a challenger going off at steep odds, you'd ideally like to see a compelling asset or ability. And with that wicked left, Reyes definitely has it. He lashes out with that shot in a variety of ways and when it lands, it does damage and no one is really that safe from getting hit with that. It depends on how you look at it. If you feel the distance between Jones and the best-of-the-rest is narrowing, Reyes is an interesting candidate. We don't know what his top-gear really is.

Reyes has done well in his UFC career. If looking to be a naysayer, though, the decision over Oezdemir was iffy and not being able to put a more-conclusive performance over a fighter of that caliber definitely makes one worry with him in this ultra-difficult spot. And while blasting out Weidman still carries weight, it's not the win it would have been several years ago. A win over Ovince St-Preux also showed his potential and he is really lethal with that left, with the right mindset and viciousness to close the show when he has his man hurt. From the company Reyes has been keeping in the octagon, however, this represents a quantum leap in terms of difficulty.

So Reyes has the dangerousness and the size to match the champion. But what determines the results of fights at this level is skills. In that area, the prognosis becomes less-rosy for the challenger. While he lands nice kicks and has sunk in some chokes in his career, his top weapon is by far that left hand wallop of his. He is going against a champion who can do everything. And what got him to this point was his ability to shut down his opponent's best weapons. When that opponent only has one real viable weapon, it's that much easier for the decorated champion.

Again, seeing a compelling weapon that an underdog challenger wields against a far more-accomplished champion offers promise—make no mistake about it. But when his other abilities lag so far behind that one big trait, it might not register so well in a spot like this. In MMA, where there are so many different forms of offense, being able to simply hit hard takes on less importance than it might in other combat sports. Jones is a master of range, in addition to throwing out different forms of offense to curtail Reyes' ability to get over a big left. I think, at the end of the day, you need more to beat Jones. That doesn't mean he doesn't have a chance.

It would be disingenuous to say Jones' last fight and Reyes' power aren't concerns. They are, after all, the main reasons Jones isn't an even bigger favorite, as his quotes have been a lot higher than this over the years. Reyes' chances are better now than they would have been 5-6 years ago. Nevertheless, I see Jones' combination of skills and urge to put forth a dominant performance adding up to bad news for Reyes. I'll take Jon Jones to defend his title successfully once again.

Loot's Pick to Win the Match: I'm betting on Jon Jones to win at -500 betting odds. Did you know... that you could be wagering on fights at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying inflated odds with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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