And the 32-year-old will once again put his title on the line at UFC 247 on Saturday against Dominick “The Devastator” Reyes.
The Mexican-American fighter comes in with a 12-0 record looking to upset Jones, the overwhelming favorite who is widely considered one of the greatest of all time.
Continuing the run
The chasm between their experience in the UFC is stark.
When Jones won his first title, Reyes had yet to fight professionally.
But Jones insists that Reyes’ relative lack of experience doesn’t make it harder to motivate himself.
“It’s not difficult to get excited,” he said. “He started off this whole thing … talking about my past, and it’s exactly what I needed.
“People think I do badly against tall people, so I’m excited for this challenge. He’s undefeated, and this guy tickles my pickle, and I cannot wait to put my hands on him.”
Jones most recently defended his crown in July with a split-decision victory over Thiago Santos.
In his time at the top, he’s faced off against fighters of different shapes and sizes, each specializing in unique areas.
Jones acknowledges Reyes’ “elite-level” athleticism, but said he doesn’t think Reyes is much different than his previous opponents.
“He has a lot of power in his left hand… I’ve faced so many people with way more advanced striking,” he said. “I’ve faced so many people with extreme knockout power and I’ve just got to go out there, respect him, believe and do what I do.”
The fight of his life
Reyes is a relative newcomer, having only started fighting around three years ago.
The 30-year-old’s lack of UFC experience is something Jones noted, saying in the pre-fight press conference: “I know nothing about him.”
In that short time, he’s flown up the rankings and is rated the No. 4 light heavyweight.
But it was actually the fight before his UFC debut when Reyes exploded into the public’s conscience.
His brutal head-kick knockout of Jordan Powell in 2017 went viral on social media — not only because it was devastating, but also because it seemed Powell was showboating before Reyes’ shin connected with his face.
He made his UFC debut three weeks later — beating Joachim Christensen in 29 seconds — and has gone from strength to strength since.
Reyes is coming off a first-round knockout win over ex-middleweight champion Chris Weidman, which granted Reyes the title shot against Jones.
And while studying your opponent is important, Reyes doesn’t think Jones’ past fights will have much impact at UFC 247.
“You can always learn something from your opponents when they fight,” he said.
“But at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. When we fight each other, we’re adapting to each other. What he did in his past, what I did in my past doesn’t matter on fight night.”