The long awaited return of Jon Jones might be the biggest question yet to be answered as the fight schedule for 2023 starts coming together.
With the announcement that he’ll finally debut at heavyweight at UFC 285 on March 4, the longest reigning 205-pound champion in UFC history will embark on arguably his biggest challenge to date. Jones has documented for the better part of the last three years how he’s been systematically adding size to his body in order to deal with larger, stronger opponents that he’ll face at heavyweight.
While there are certainly no guarantees how much success Jones will find in a new weight class, UFC color commentator and analyst Paul Felder expects Jones to adapt to his surroundings rather well and perhaps even become a better, more dangerous version of the fighter last seen in early 2020.
“I believe as long as Jon Jones uses his fighting intelligence and how to figure guys out, I think it will be easier for him. Felder explained this on The Fighter. The Writer. “Because at light heavyweight guys are a little bit faster, they’re not quite as big.
” If he can get these large lumbering men and make them miss, makes mistakes, and uses his footwork and angles and uses takedowns to stop them, then he is so great everywhere. His boxing is great and he can throw great distance elbows. These are things he should do
If there was one major complaint about Jones’ performances during his career, it’s that he can get complacent at times and allow his talent to supersede actual preparation and an intense training camp.
Jones has openly admitted in the past that he’s taken some opponents lightly or not put forth the effort to get ready for certain fights after largely dominating what would be considered the best competition he’s faced throughout his career.
Jones won his last three fights, but seemed almost disinterested in some moments. This was especially true when he had to make razor-thin decisions against Dominick Reyes and Thiago Santos.
“I don’t want to say he got lazy towards the end of his light heavyweight career but he had beaten everybody,” Felder said when addressing Jones’ final few fights at 205 pounds. He was becoming a bit lackadaisical .
With better challenges and more dangerous opposition awaiting him at heavyweight, Felder expects Jones to be plenty motivated when he competes again.
“When he makes his return at heavyweight, I think they’ll be a little bit more ‘I’m not f****** around here, this isn’t my 12th title defense, I need to go out there and get the job done,'” Felder said. Felder said that he will be trying to make a big statement with his .”
As it stands, Jones is now scheduled to face Ciryl Gane to crown a new UFC heavyweight champion in the wake of Francis Ngannou leaving the promotion.
With that deal, it seems like the wait game for Jones to become a heavyweight is over. It’s also just in time since Felder understands the importance of everyone getting the chance to win.
“Let’s get you in there before we’re saying how good Jon Jones could’ve been at heavyweight if he hadn’t taken X amount of years off,” Felder said. I hate the fact that this took him so long.
“If you’re going to fight let’s get your ass back in there, let’s get you a fight and I think he deserves — say what you want about the man and his personal drama and all that kind of stuff — but like you said, he’s one of the greatest fighters if not the greatest fighter ever.”