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Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones will take on the surging Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 in February, with Jones’ long-time coach Mike Winkeljohn claiming his fighter loves the matchup. Jones believes Reyes’ skillset will offer a stiff challenge.
Jones has been linked to a move up to the heavyweight division after effectively cleaning out the 205-pound division, although the undefeated Reyes again proved himself as a genuine threat to Jones’ belt with his first-round knockout of former middleweight champion Chris Weidman last month at UFC Boston.
“Bones” was also linked to the resurgent Corey Anderson, who is riding a four-fight win streak, including his upset finish over the promising Johnny Walker. However, according to Winkeljohn, Jones preferred the matchup against Reyes, believing “The Dominator” offered the harder challenge (via BJPenn.com):
“Dominick is good, he is very skilled has a great left hand; he has great kicks. What he has is the ability to pinpoint his shots,” Winkeljohn said to BJPenn.com. “Whenever he has an easier fight, he doesn’t push as hard. But, he loves this matchup and this is what Jon wants is a hard challenge. Jon is trying really hard to better himself even more.”
Winkeljohn rates Jones’ fighter IQ as the best in the business and says his fighter is able to breakdown his opponents and adjust his game plan on the fly better than anyone.
“He is the smartest guy out there. He watches an incredible amount of tape, and he looks for patterns,” Winkeljohn explained. “We know what people will do before they do it themselves sometimes. He’s got so many different options in his skillset and he adjusts accordingly.”
Jones had been vocal on social media ahead of the fight announcement, stating that he would be open to a move up to the heavyweight division to look for a new challenge, but instead the champion decided to stay at 205-pounds to defend his belt. Winkeljohn insists his fighter made the decision as he believed Reyes offered him the biggest challenge at the time.
“I think right now he wants to clear out light heavyweight. Jon makes weight very easy, so he would really have to gain some weight to go up there,” he said. “It is also about motivation and money and getting the right fight. Whatever he thinks is the biggest challenge is what he wants.”
Winkeljohn confirmed Jones has already started his camp despite being several months out and is mindful come Feb. 8 that he’ll be in peak condition.
“He is working out every day; we have started a schedule with him. He is easing in without burning out. He is motivated to get in there and do what he can do,” Winkeljohn concluded.