Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, home to Stony Brook Athletics, including football. Dominick Reyes, the renowned UFC fighter, used to play for Stony Brook Football. SARA RUBERG/THE STATESMAN

More than seven years since he played his last game as the starting safety of the Stony Brook football team, Dominick Reyes stepped into the octagon to take on Jon Jones in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 247 for the Light Heavyweight Championship. The title fight at the Toyota Center on Saturday, Feb. 8 was the biggest opportunity yet for the undefeated Reyes, Stony Brook Football’s all-time leader in solo tackles. While the highly contested bout lasted all five rounds, it ended in controversy with the reading of the official scorecards: a unanimous decision in favor of Jones, with one judge scoring it 49-46.

Reyes entered as a large underdog against Jones, who had already defended his championship twice. Regardless, the Stony Brook product began to make noise early by gaining the upper hand in the first few rounds. Jones began to take advantage of a gassed Reyes in the championship rounds, but many believed that Reyes had done enough to strip the title belt from its incumbent owner.

Two of the three judges scored the fight 48-47 Jones. It was the 49-46 scoring by Joe Solis, who had not scored a UFC fight since 2017, that drew the most ire. Solis gave Jones the advantage in four of the five rounds, a decision that was lambasted throughout the mixed martial arts (MMA) community. 

“I can’t argue about this enough,” color commentator Joe Rogan said on the UFC 247 broadcast. “I can’t get angry enough. I’ve done it so many times. For anyone to think that was 4-1 Jon Jones, that person’s insane. They’re insane. Dominick Reyes put on a hell of a fight tonight. And to disrespect that performance by that kind of judging is insane.”

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14 of 21 media outlets gave Reyes the victory. All of them scored the fight 48-47 regardless of who it was in favor of. UFC president Dana White had Reyes winning 3-2. Reyes landed 116 significant strikes to Jones’ 104, but Jones landed on 62% of his strikes and had two takedowns compared to none for Reyes.

“I’m disappointed first of all,” Reyes said in a post-fight press conference. “I am proud of myself, though. I went out there with all my heart, and the goal for me was to make it an ESPN instant classic, and I feel like I accomplished that today. I do feel disrespected. One of the judges had it 49-46. Like, who are you? I might want to have a word with you … You’re going to do me like that? But it is what it is. All I know is that I am the truth, and people saw that tonight. Many people from the top down in this organization told me I owned that fight tonight.”

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