Jon Jones is about to end a three-year layoff in a new division.
Feb. 2020 marked Jones’ last appearance in the octagon when he successfully defended his light heavyweight title against Dominick Reyes via a unanimous decision. The win tied Demetrious Johnson’s record for most UFC title defenses at 11 and was enough for “Bones” to decide he’d done all he possibly could at 205 pounds.
Shortly after, Jones vacated his title to debut at heavyweight after many years of mentioning the possibility. He’s been bulking up and getting himself ready for that very moment ever since and the opportunity to show fans what he’s been working on comes at UFC 285 on March 4 against Ciryl Gane in Las Vegas.
“I’m excited, I’m grateful, I feel humble, I feel appreciated by the company I work for, I feel like I’m in a really good place,” Jones told The Underground. “MMA feels fun to me again. Obviously, with being out for three years and a new division, there’s a lot of questions that cause me to stay up long nights, but it keeps me sharp. That’s something I felt like I didn’t have at light heavyweight toward the end. It just felt like another day at the office.
“This doesn’t feel like another day at the office. This feels very different. The nerves, anxiety, it’s all back, and I do good when I’m under pressure.”
Jones feels his physical transformation was completed about four months ago and despite UFC President Dana White claiming a fight with Stipe Miocic was never on the table, Jones says otherwise.
The former divisional champion Miocic was consistently highlighted as plan B for Jones’ debut should things not work out with then-champion Francis Ngannou. In the end, Ngannou couldn’t reach an agreement for a new deal with the UFC, resulting in his stripping of the title and release from his contract. It was considered one of the biggest fights that could be made in MMA as soon as it became a possibility, but for Jones, he was more interested in the original second option.
“It does [take away from my return not being Ngannou],” Jones said. “I feel like Francis is the more intimidating of the two. I feel like just as far as Americans go, I feel like he’s more known in America. Francis is this big, scary, intimidating man and whereas Ciryl is relatively unknown. Obviously, Francis has the belt so taking it from him would have been nice. It’s a completely different fight stylistically.
“I think the fight that meant the most to me was fighting Stipe Miocic. That’s the fight that actually means the most to me because Stipe is the greatest heavyweight of all time. I’m not looking past Ciryl Gane at all. I’m very honored to fight Ciryl Gane and I knew it would be happening eventually, inevitably, but that’s the fight I was really bummed didn’t happen.”
Jones, 35, restructured his eight-fight deal with the promotion ahead of his fight with Gane and is now the second highest-paid UFC fighter of all time, according to his manager Richard Schaefer. The likelihood of the all-time great actually completing all of those fights is clearly not strong. Jones can, however, promise he won’t be one and done as a heavyweight.
“My immediate goal is to beat Ciryl Gane and to beat Stipe Miocic,” Jones said. “After that, it will just be conversations with the UFC to see what makes sense, but I’m guaranteeing the fans at least two more fights out of me.”
Stance. Francis Ngannou explains why he passed on UFC deal for free agency: ‘In that contract, I’m not free’
Opinion. Matt Brown: Francis Ngannou ‘isn’t scared of anyone’ but Dana White knows a lot of people will ‘buy into anything’ he says
Boxing. Jake Paul vs. Tommy Fury targeted for Feb. 25
Hope. Aljamain Sterling ‘optimistic’ he’ll be able to fight at UFC 285, but cool with interim title if not
Miss. Arnold Allen reveals injury prevented him from accepting UFC 286 co-main event slot: ‘It has been the story of my life’
Collateral. Jeff Molina suspended due to allegations he was ‘involved in some substantial way’ related to James Krause betting scandal
Trouble. UFC flyweight Carlos Mota suspended by Nevada Commission after testing positive for meldonium
The MMA Hour.
Best of the UFC’s Brazilian fighters.
The Brazil experience.
Bellator’s Top 5 Slam Finishes.
Adesanya previews UFC 283.
Heck of a Morning. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck discusses Francis Ngannou turning down UFC, Jon Jones coming back, and more.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Put me in coach! pic.twitter.com/61Jr6avc99
— Kevin Holland (@Trailblaze2top) January 17, 2023
It’s the fight everyone has been asking for in @InvictaFights! Just kidding, it’s just @julesk_fighter and @MeganAnderson modeling for the face-offs. #InvictaFC51 pic.twitter.com/c15gs3IeO9
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) January 17, 2023
Why do so many people have an issue with fighters getting paid like other professional athletes, if the cost to you as fans and spectators is the same. I’m genuinely curious.
— Alpha Cat Zingano (@CatZingano) January 17, 2023
It’s backwards. Other sports with way less risk get patted on the back for big million dollar deals, sponsorship and all, and the fighters get more flack about asking for more money. I don’t get why ppl wouldn’t want us to compete more and make more money https://t.co/qpaTQ0s3FK
— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) January 18, 2023
Brainwashed by Daddy Dana.
— Chris Wade (@CWadeMMA) January 18, 2023
They side with the machine because they’re gullible and ignorant.
— Mike Jackson, Esq. (@TheTruthJackson) January 17, 2023
It’s really amazing to see “fans” side with billionaire owners over the fighters actually putting on the show they’re paying to see. My best guess is they see someone living what they consider a “dream life” and can’t imagine how anyone could want more. And my fave response:
— Nathan Quarry (@NateRockQuarry) January 17, 2023
Throw back to young GSP hitting the most perfect sweep I’ve ever seen in an MMA fight pic.twitter.com/WDqp2VsuSU
— T. P. Grant (@TP_Grant) January 17, 2023
Place your bets!
For the first time, @DraftKings will offer betting on @InvictaFights starting Wednesday with #InvictaFC51! https://t.co/jKAQ6gwrEh pic.twitter.com/R0VOfUuGWf
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) January 17, 2023
OFFICIAL: 2021 PFL Light Heavyweight Champion @caradesapatojr will miss the start of 2023 PFL Season pic.twitter.com/GqH5xjaRKM
— PFL (@PFLMMA) January 17, 2023
It’s a good’n.
Fight news coming soon ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/JejBemAGow
— Merab “The Machine” Dvalishvili (@MerabDvalishvil) January 18, 2023
ワンピース ワノ国 ヤマト
撮影有難うございました!!#C101_cos #コスプレイヤー #筋肉女子 #コミケコスプレ pic.twitter.com/YoxylyZUsM
— Aya Murakami(村上 彩) (@aya_bjj) January 18, 2023
Living the dream.
Alex Pereira having the time of his life on a roller coaster pic.twitter.com/OGGUJejIBR
— Aj (@AjDuxche) January 17, 2023
Food reviews with the Spaniard.
Wow the takoyaki in Osaka is so amazing pic.twitter.com/o6ANOl3vNd
— Juan Archuleta (@jarchmma) January 18, 2023
Petr Yan (16-4) vs. Merab Dvalishvili (15-4); UFC Vegas 71, March 11
Ignacio Bahamondes (13-4) vs. Nikolas Motta (13-4); UFC 278, April 8
Bruna Brasil (7-2-1) vs. Denise Gomes (6-2); UFC Fight Night, April 15
Martin Buday (11-1) vs. Jake Collier (13-8); UFC Fight Night, April 15
Iasmin Lucindo (13-5) vs. Melissa Martinez (7-1); UFC Fight Night, April 22
Before hearing Jones’ comments here, I had a feeling that he’d just call it a career if he loses his comeback fight. I think that’s still possible, but if he’s as serious about the Miocic matchup as he sounds, I could see him still wanting it after. In fact, it actually makes more sense if he does lose to Gane, anyway.
Thanks for reading!
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