HOUSTON — Jon Jones‘ fight strategy isn’t limited to what happens inside the Octagon.
The UFC light heavyweight champion revealed during media day for UFC 247 that there was a game plan behind picking Dominick Reyes for Saturday’s title defense. Jones previously had said he picked Reyes because he and his coaches decided Reyes was the most dangerous opponent, but there was more to the decision.
“There’s a little strategy behind it,” Jones said. “I feel like a guy that’s so young in Dominick Reyes , he’s only going to get better. He’s so new in the game. I want to take him out while he’s still fairly inexperienced. I think we all know that I do better in rematches. So when he does come back, hopefully I can [beat] him in even more dominating fashion than I will Saturday.”
Jones (25-1, 1 NC) has never been beaten inside the Octagon. His only loss was via disqualification for illegal elbow strikes in 2009. Since then, the New Mexico resident is unbeaten in 17 straight fights. Jones, 32, has the most wins in UFC light heavyweight history with 19.
Reyes (12-0), ESPN’s No. 4-ranked light heavyweight, has won all six of his UFC fights, four by finish. But this is his first time on a stage this big and his first shot at a title. The California native is a big underdog, but has the athleticism and power in his hands to give Jones a run.
In the co-main event, another dominant champion in Valentina Shevchenko will attempt to extend her winning streak against challenger Katlyn Chookagian. Shevchenko (18-3) has won four straight with two title defenses. She is the only women’s flyweight champion the UFC has even known. Shevchenko, 31, has only lost in the UFC to featherweight and bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes. Chookagian (13-2) has won five of her past six fights. The 31-year-old New Jersey native is 6-2 in the UFC.
Fight in progress:
In a bout that wasn’t officially on the card until about 24 hours prior, Giles gutted out a very tough split decision win (29-28, 28-29, 29-28). After losing the first round in lopsided fashion on the ground, Giles stayed on his feet in the second and third and landed big shots on Krause en route to the victory.
Giles was supposed to fight Antonio Arroyo on Saturday night. But Arroyo fell ill due to cramps following a tough weight cut on Friday. He was transported to the hospital, and UFC doctors took him off the card.
Giles is a Houston resident and an officer in the city’s police force. He wanted to fight, and the UFC sought out an alternative. Krause was in town to corner his teammate Youssef Zalal. The welterweight stepped in, moving up to middleweight with no training camp to fight Giles.
Krause looked solid in the first round, taking Giles down, getting his back and working on several rear-naked choke attempts. Giles stuffed all of Krause’s takedowns thereafter and hit him with some big right crosses and left hooks, bloodying Krause in the second and rocking him in the third.
“Let me tell you something, this man is tough,” Giles said.
Krause had some moments in the third. He landed four good right hands, though not with enough power to rock Giles. It was an extremely gutty performance given he had no idea he would be fighting 24 hours earlier.
“This is what I do 24/7,” Krause said. “I’m just glad I could go out, give Trevin a good fight, give you guys a good fight.”
Giles, 27, snapped a two-fight losing streak. The Texas native earned his first victory since 2017.
Krause, 33, had a six-fight winning streak snapped with the loss.
Murphy took a while — and some early damage — before getting going, but she kept moving forward and mixed in solid punches with timely takedowns to eke out a decision in her hometown.
It is her second straight victory — the first time since 2013 that she has won consecutive fights. It also is the first time Lee has lost two in a row.
Lee, who fights out of Shreveport, Louisiana, started strongly, landing almost everything she threw in the opening minutes. But Murphy did not back up and gradually picked up on Lee’s timing and started landing counter shots. Lee started slowing down ever so slightly, and her accuracy suffered.
Early in the third round, Murphy lost balance and fell to the canvas while missing a flying knee, and Lee took advantage, securing a choke. But Murphy calmly worked her way out of it and ended up on top of Lee for much of the rest of the round.
Two judges scored the bout 29-28, one for each fighter, and the third judge had it 30-27 for Murphy, who acknowledged afterward that she was not confident that the close fight had gone her way.
“I’m never confident when it goes to decision, man,” she said.
“I called out Roxanne in the Octagon, but really I’d face her or Jojo [Calderwood] next,” Murphy said after the fight. “Either one. I think they are the only ones in the top 5, because Viviane [Araujo] is coming from a loss, [Jennifer] Maia and [Jessica] Eye both missed weight. So Jojo and Roxanne are the only ones right now coming from wins and making weight, so they are the only ones I’m interested in facing next.”
Williams’ real name is Kalinn, but fans got a glimpse into why his preferred moniker is Khaos. In his UFC debut on short notice, Williams pummeled Morono, leading to a knockout at just 27 seconds of the first round.
Williams caught Morono with a looping left hand early, stunning the UFC veteran. Williams then pounced, caught Morono against the cage and threw huge punches until he was pulled off. Morono was never able to recover from the initial blow.
Morono was initially scheduled to fight Dhiego Lima, but Lima withdrew with an injury, and Williams stepped in on two weeks’ notice.
Williams cashed as a +275 underdog. The Michigan native notched the sixth-fastest UFC welterweight debut in history, and it was the fastest finish in a UFC debut since Kenan Song stopped Bobby Nash in 15 seconds in November 2017.
Wow, that’s how you make a debut #UFC246
— Neil Magny (@NeilMagny) February 9, 2020
Williams, 25, has won seven straight, four of which came in 2019. Nicknamed “The Oxfighter,” Williams comes from the Michigan regional MMA scene. Morono, a 29-year-old Texas native, had won three straight coming in.
“The dude was a hometown guy, 17-5, so it was a pretty incredible win,” Williams said. “Like I said, Khaos Williams, get used to the name, I’ll be here and I’m here to stay. I’m the future and one day I’ll be fighting for the title.
“It felt great walking down to the Octagon for the first time. I never fold under pressure, I always perform better under pressure.”
It had been a technical standup fight from distance for the first 6½ minutes until Bautista closed the distance in a flash and landed a flying knee that handed Johns his first career loss.
Bautista, a 26-year-old who fights out of The MMA Lab in Glendale, Arizona, showed off constant movement from the start. That made it difficult for the compact Johns to set up his power shots, although the fighter from Fortis MMA in Dallas did land one looping overhand right that knocked Bautista off balance.
“I wanted to prove to everyone that I wasn’t just a brawler, like in my last fight,” said Bautista, whose only loss came in his UFC debut against top-10 bantamweight Cory Sandhagen. “I wanted to take my time, pick my shots.”
That he did, crushing Johns, 25, with a flying knee before finishing the fight at 1:41 of Round 2 with ground-and-pound strikes. For Bautista, it is his sixth finish — three by submission, three by TKO.
“We watched his past fights. He is a lot shorter than me, kind of hangs his head in the center, doesn’t really move off line. Working with my striking coach back at home, we do that flying knee all the time, so it was something that we had seen — and it worked,” Bautista said.
“You can’t really be thinking about your opponent’s record. If you think about the record, it’s always going to be in your mind that he is unbeatable. But to me, I’ve seen his last fight, I thought he lost and we just saw a lot of holes in his game. I trained with a great camp, and we had a great game plan — and it worked tonight.”
For a second, it looked like it would be a rough go for Newson. Pilarte came out firing and caught him with a hard head kick. Newson, though, quickly turned things around. He crushed Pilarte with a right hand, then pounced with shots on the ground as Pilarte covered up.
Referee Jacob Montalvo stopped the bout at just 38 seconds of the first round.
“He hit me with that head kick, but I came back to and remembered the game plan,” Newson said.
That OVERHAND!!! YOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWW!!!#UFC247
— Corey Anderson UFC (@CoreyA_MMA) February 9, 2020
It was the quickest win of Newson’s career and the eighth fastest KO/TKO in UFC bantamweight history, per ESPN Stats & Information data.
Newson, 30, earned his first UFC victory with the finish. The Oregon resident had won six straight prior to losing to Ricardo Ramos in June in his UFC debut last.
Pilarte, 30, who was fighting in his hometown, has lost two straight and is still searching for his first UFC win.
“This was unreal. Period. Unreal,” Newson said. “It was the game plan all along. I have a devastating right hand, and when he clipped me with that head kick, my basic instinct was just to go to that right hand, and it worked. That head kick possibly caused a fracture; we are going to have that checked. It kind of hurts right now, especially to talk, but it is worth it.
“Now, I just want to go to the hospital, make sure everything is OK with my face and later start looking for next opponents.”
Ewell somehow took the decision despite being badly hurt by body kicks in both the first and second rounds and fighting the entire third round with what appeared to be a compromised right wrist.
Ewell and Martinez engaged on the feet throughout, with each man landing his share in the first two rounds. Round 1 ended with a wild flurry in which both fighters absorbed some blows but narrowly avoided the biggest shots. Martinez twice backed up Ewell with body kicks but was unable to capitalize on his hurt opponent.
— Justin Gaethje 🇺🇸 (@Justin_Gaethje) February 9, 2020
The same was true in Round 3, in which Ewell was reduced to mostly throwing kicks and left hands, along with the occasional awkward right. Nonetheless, at least one judge gave Ewell that round, scoring the fight 30-27. The other two judges had it 29-28, with one favoring each fighter.
“My opponent was great,” Ewell said. “He ended up breaking my forearm with some kicks when I tried to block them and it was kind of difficult only having one arm to use. Besides that, it was really fun.
“I kind of felt that I won two rounds, the second and the third. The first one could have been debatable, because I know he hit me in the body, but then I dropped him and ended up kind of getting that round back. I felt like, if anything, it should have been a 29 or 30-28, but things happen. I’m not mad at it. “
It was almost like a Dana White’s Contender Series fight on the prelims of a pay-per-view. Zalal and Lingo were both making their UFC debut, it was a short-notice fight and an impressive victory would prove at least one of them belonged.
Zalal was the athlete who stood out most in an impressive victory by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). Zalal won every round, bloodied Lingo with strikes in the first and put him in trouble with several D’arce choke attempts in the second and third rounds.
.So incredibly happy for @moroccandevil35 winning his ufc debut!!
One of the most creative and technical fighters I’ve had the honour to train with.
— Megan Anderson (@MeganA_mma) February 9, 2020
Zalal has now won two straight. The 23-year-old Morrocco native had finished all of his previous victories. Lingo, a 25-year-old Dallas resident, was undefeated coming in, with five of his wins coming via finish.
“It felt amazing to make my UFC debut here in Houston, opening up a pay-per-view event,” Zalal said. “I know I belong in there.
“I was supposed to control the middle more — go in, have my fun — but hey, it’s my UFC debut. Like my manager just said, I should just have fun now and enjoy my win. Twelve days ago, I wasn’t even in the UFC. Now I’m in the UFC and with a win. I’m very grateful and blessed to be here now, and I will stay ready for whatever comes next.”