Despite some recent lackluster performances from Jon Jones, UFC featherweight contender Shane Burgos wouldn’t bet against him in his upcoming title defense.
Jones regained the light heavyweight title in dominant fashion when he comfortably defeated Alexander Gustafsson via TKO in their rematch last year. His following two performances haven’t been on the same wavelength, though.
Although he was the better fighter on the night, “Bones” struggled to put away Anthony Smith at UFC 235 in March on his way to a unanimous decision win.
He followed it up with a drab split decision victory over Thiago Santos at UFC 239 in July. Santos was notably compromised with a knee injury early on in the fight, but one judge still scored the contest in favor of the Brazilian. Fortunately for Jones, the other two judges scored it in his favor.
The champion is now set to defend his title against unbeaten prospect Dominick Reyes in the UFC 247 headliner on February 8 in Houston, Texas. Jones will naturally be the favorite, but many, including oddsmakers, are giving Reyes a good shot at causing the upset.
Reyes is 6-0 in the UFC and is coming off an impressive first-round TKO victory over former middleweight champion Chris Weidman. However, it’s hard to gauge just how good he is given his all-round Octagon time, with four of his six wins coming in the first round.
“The one fight he did have that did go to a decision was with [Volkan] Oezdemir,” Burgos said of the small sample size in Reyes’ performances in a recent appearance on the TSN MMA Show. “That was a really close fight. I think I had Oezdemir winning that fight but it was close.
“You can’t pick against Jon Jones though. You know what I mean? You can’t pick against him, you just can’t. He doesn’t stop winning and the biggest hole I would say would be in his boxing and he’s really cleaned that up lately and he’s using his reach a lot better. I got to go with Jon Jones.”
Burgos acknowledges that Jones hasn’t been at his best in his last two outings.
The criticism Jones has received since only serves to highlight just how dominant he usually is inside the Octagon. And because of that, Burgos feels he will look for the finish against Reyes.
“I feel like his last couple fights haven’t been his best performances,” Burgos added. “… I feel like he’s going to be fighting to get that finish, get that respect he hasn’t really been getting.
“The fights with Thiago Santos and Anthony Smith … it didn’t look like he was hungry to really get in there and finish. When he fought Shogun to win the belt, doing all the title defenses against Rashad, Rampage, and Machida, he looked like a killer. He looked like he was on a mission to finish those fights. From the first bell to the last. In his last couple fights, he’s been content just to go [to] decisions and win rounds.”