Insight the Octagon returns this week for UFC 247 on Saturday night in Houston. Mixed martial arts fans will witness two world-championship bouts as main events supported by 10 other fights. This card provides another look at superstar Jon “Bones” Jones, who for some time has been the face of dominance in the UFC.
Jon “Bones” Jones -440 vs. Dominick Reyes + 360, light-heavyweight (205 pounds) main event
Jones’ incredible MMA abilities will be on display against another challenger trying to wrest his title from him. At 32, Jones is a more balanced, mature man yet still an able and equipped fighter. Problems that tainted Jones’ reputation have given way to a more balanced individual, yet through it all Jones the fighter has continued to improve and become more dangerous.
This issue with Jones and his most recent fights is that he needs to be motivated to display his true destructive capability. We saw his best against Daniel Cormier in their second fight because Jones knew it would take his absolute best to win that night.
With all due respect to Jones’ last two opponents, Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos, I believe Jones was simply unchallenged and chose to beat them strategically at their own games. Neither was in the same hemisphere of talent as Jones.
Jones’ unusual physical characteristics of height, arm and leg reach coupled with a world-class wrestling base laced with an abundance of ill intention make him the greatest fighter of this generation. He has defended the light-heavyweight belt 14 times, which is one more than the total number of Dominick Reyes’ fights, so a vast experience edge goes to Jones.
The question is: Has the challenge of fighting Reyes stimulated whatever Jones needs to dominate?
Reyes will be giving up 7 inches of arm reach and 2 inches of leg reach, though both stand 6-4. Reyes is athletic and explosive for his size, and he utilizes forward pressure and power striking with a committed leg-kicking attack to try to create a firestorm that suits the Californian well.
Reyes is fast, tough and willing. His path to victory must be to immediately take the fight to Jones, to press him, back him up and make him engage in frantic fisticuffs. This is much easier said than done, but it must be Reyes’ plan, for he lacks the guile, cardio and fight intelligence to compete if Jones is allowed to dictate pace and space.
This fight opened Jones -485/Reyes + 350, so the line has tightened a bit, which I believe to be an accurate reflection of this matchup. I also think Reyes has goaded Jones enough to bring forth a dominant performance from the champion, and I expect Jones to finish Reyes sometime in this fight.
Jones’ ‘Inside the Distance’ is -130, and because it includes KO, TKO, DQ and submission, it would be my recommendation for a wager. However, since this position is not available everywhere — and not available anywhere in Las Vegas — I’ll pass on this fight.
Valentina Shevchenko -1200 vs. Katlyn Chookagian + 850, women's flyweight (125 pounds) championship
Shevchenko is appropriately nicknamed Bullet. She’s the most skilled women’s mixed martial artist alive, along with Amanda Nunes.
Shevchenko, a southpaw, possesses vast experience and high fight IQ, and she can deliver kicks and strikes with tremendous precision and unending volume. She’s a master of sport in judo, so she can maul opponents on the mat. Shevchenko can be compared to Khabib Nurmagomedov, as both Russians were born and bred to fight.
But Chookagian is no slouch. She’ll be the taller, longer woman, though she lacks the champion's experience. Chookagian’s game is based on striking, though she might prefer to take this fight to the floor since her best chance could be to lure Shevchenko into a submission.
Chookagian has absolutely no power or leverage in her strikes and lands only 32% of distance strikes to Shevchenko’s 49%.
This fight opened Shevchenko -600/Chookagian + 400, so players are all over the champ. That said, the case for Chookagian is greater than the case for Reyes against Jones. I do see a scenario in which Chookagian could pepper Shevchenko from the outside in an attempt to outpoint the shorter Shevchenko over time and from distance.
We know Chookagian can go five rounds, we know she can control distance with her size and we know all of her UFC fights have been settled via decision. Could she surprise the champion by playing on the outside and trying to simply outpoint her? I doubt that, but at inflated pricing like + 850, I’d be forced to consider a milk-money wager on the challenger.
Mirsad Bektic -140 vs. Dan Ige + 110, featherweight (145 pounds) main card
Bektic has the more recognizable name but has been on the shelf since he was TKO’d by Josh Emmett in July. He’s 2-2 in his last four UFC fights.
Ige is on a run, having won his last four bouts. Momentum can be tangible in the UFC, and with victories over Kevin Aguilar and Mike Santiago, I believe Ige is in position to offer his best on Saturday night. Ige opened -135 and is now an underdog. Strike now.
Ige + 110
After two fight cards, Insight the Octagon stands 1-0 + 1.20u. With our last publication release, Curtis Blaydes -240 as the first leg of a two-team parlay remains open for later use.