Dominick Reyes knows without a single doubt in his mind that he should be the light heavyweight champion right now.
Five days removed from a grueling five round battle at UFC 247, the sting is still fresh as Reyes tries to reconcile with three judges who scored the fight for Jon Jones while also trying to appreciate the work he did that night.
“I feel good about what I went out there and did,” Reyes told MMA Fighting on Thursday. “No matter what the judges say, I went out there and I won that fight. But I don’t have a belt and that’s the reality of the situation.
“The reality of the situation is that he’s still the champ. I’ve got to get better. I’ve got to try to get this rematch going and I’ve got to finish him next time.”
In the aftermath of the decision on Saturday night, Reyes admits that he hasn’t gone back to watch the fight again, and he can’t be certain he ever will. But he’s confident about what happened.
The 30-year-old contender punished Jones early with an aggressive game plan, moving forward while landing big, heavy combinations in succession. Over the course of five rounds, Reyes outlanded Jones 119 to 107 in total strikes, as well as 116 to 104 in significant strikes.
Reyes attacked the head, body and legs with equal precision while also out landing Jones in the clinch, which has typically been one of the reigning light heavyweight champion’s best weapons over the years.
“I’m not just buying into the hype because immediately after the fight, my post fight interview, I said I won 3-2,” Reyes said, adding he took the first three rounds against Jones. “I’ll stick by that until the end. There’s nobody that can convince me otherwise. I was in there with him.
“But f*ck I can’t reverse what the judges did or say. It really sucks. It’s disappointing, but like I said, I’m proud of what I did. If you’re going to lose, that’s probably the best way you could possibly lose. It happened to be a lost to Jon Jones, and it was the most controversial decision this year or last year. It is what it is.”
Perhaps the biggest beef that Reyes had with the decision that night came after he saw the scorecards. Two judges — Marcos Rosales and Joe Solis — scored the second round in Jones’ favor.
Reyes might be willing to listen to an argument about the third and fourth rounds being a little too close for comfort, but he has no such feeling about round two.
“Me not winning the second round on any judges’ scorecard is preposterous,” Reyes said. “I look back at the scorecards like what could I have done? I clearly beat him in the second round and the judges had me losing the second. I honestly don’t know. None of it made sense.
“When they read off the scorecards, I thought they were talking about me with the 49-46. I was like OK, I did win the fourth round.”
That said, he refuses to use a word like “robbery” to describe what happened to him.
“I think I won that fight,” Reyes said. “I think the judges scored it wrong, but to say robbery, I don’t know. I felt like something was taken from me than I earned.
“I’ve replayed it a million times in my head. I even try to see it from their point of view, and it’s like no matter how I slice it, I won that fight. It sucks. It definitely sucks, but I’m moving forward. I have a super bright future ahead of me. I’m going to get that rematch.”
At the post-fight press conference, both Jones and Reyes fielded questions about potentially running it back in an immediate rematch. Jones was open to the idea if the UFC wanted one. Obviously, Reyes was on board, but his desire for a second shot at Jones has really grown over the past few days.
“I truly believe in my heart of hearts, I deserve a rematch,” Reyes said. “To set things right. He’s going to say he won that fight. He’s got to. He’s going to say he won that fight, but I don’t know if he truly believes that.
“So let’s set your conscience right and we go out there and do it again.”
Regardless of the decision, Reyes had nothing but respect for Jones when they clashed at UFC 247, and that certainly hasn’t changed afterwards.
He’s not going to suddenly start trashing Jones in order to get his attention for a rematch. Instead, Reyes is just going to send him a message and hope Jones is listening.
“Jon, rest up — I know we got in a battle, I’m feeling it, too,” Reyes said when addressing the light heavyweight champion. “But when you get healthy, talk to the brass, talk to [UFC President] Dana [White]. I’ll have my people do the same.
“We’ve got to set up this rematch. You know it and I know it. Let’s do this.”