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Like a lot of observers, Anthony Smith came away impressed with Dominick Reyes’ performance against Jon Jones at UFC 247.
Although Jones retained his light heavyweight crown with a unanimous decision triumph against Reyes at the Toyota Center in Houston on Feb. 8, it was a highly disputed verdict. According to MMADecisions.com, 14 media scorecards were awarded to Reyes compared to just seven for Jones.
Smith, who lost a more clear-cut decision to Jones at UFC 235, believes Reyes’ resume trumps that of another worthy 205-pound contender, Jan Blachowicz.
“As much as it pains me to say it, I think Dominick Reyes deserves the rematch,” Smith said during a UFC virtual media day appearance on Monday. “I think that he did everything he’s supposed to do. He went out there, he busted his ass and gave Jon all he could handle. If you ask 10 people, I think the majority would say that Jon Jones lost that fight.
“On the flip side of that, I think Jan Blachowicz also deserves a title shot. I think Reyes’ claim to it is a little bit stronger. Blachowicz has a win over Rockhold. There’s [young guys] in the division that haven’t ever seen Luke Rockhold win a fight before. It’s been a while since that guy’s done that. And he lost to Thiago Santos, who’s also floating around up there. He does have a good win over Corey Anderson, I will give him that.”
Smith will continue his road back into title contention when he faces Glover Teixeira in the UFC Fight Night 171 headliner at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, on Wednesday night.
While it is likely that Reyes is much closer to a return date with Jones than he is, “Lionheart” doesn’t expect “The Devastator” to fare nearly as well if he gets another crack at the champion.
“I think the way that Reyes went in there and did what he did, I think that he had something stolen from him by the commission,” Smith said. “He at least deserves the opportunity to right that wrong.
“I also don’t think that he will win the rematch. I think was the best Dominick Reyes. I think that was all he has to offer. I think that was as good as it gets. Jon Jones tends to do better in rematches, and I don’t think Reyes left anything in the tank for later. I think he emptied the tank and that’s all he’s got.”
Jones has encountered only two rematches during his UFC tenure thus far. After squeaking by Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165, the Jackson-Wink MMA product scored an emphatic third-round knockout of the Swede in their rematch UFC 232. Jones captured a five-round verdict over Daniel Cormier in their first meeting at UFC 182 before stopping “DC” by third-round TKO in their rematch at UFC 214. That second fight was eventually changed to a no contest after Jones failed a drug test, but Smith’s point still rings true: “Bones” fights with a point to prove the second time around.
Nonetheless, Smith has his own designs on earning a second chance at Jones, and that starts with taking care of business against Teixeira on Wednesday night. It might just take a little longer than it will for Reyes.
“There’s nowhere to sit down at the top of the division. It’s standing room only up there,” he said. “I think a dominant performance and a finish over Glover would put me in a position to fight whoever doesn’t get the title shot.
“I’m a realist, and I know I didn’t have the best performance against Jon, and I’m gonna have to earn my way back to it. I think if Reyes gets the title shot, I think fighting either Thiago Santos or Jan Blachowicz, I think a win over one of those guys absolutely puts me right back into a title fight.”
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