Jon Jones has already cemented his legacy in the UFC.
He’s already the greatest light heavyweight the company has ever seen and he’s a stone cold lock to go into the company’s hall of fame.
But Jones wants more.
He won the UFC light heavyweight championship at the age of just 23 with a TKO victory over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, one of the sport’s legends. Jones then went on to defend that title 14 times, only losing it when he stripped of the title following failed drug tests and out-of-cage controversies.
Jones last defended the belt against Thiagos Santos and Dominik Reyes in fights that won via a pair of controversial decisions. Buy he has not fought in over three years.
Now he’s back, and in a new division.
Jones is scheduled to take on Ciryl Gane at UFC 285 on March 4 for the vacant heavyweight championship. The belt was previously held by Francis Ngannou, who defeated Gane in February of 2022 to defend his title but has since left the company.
Jon Jones Open Up On Decision To Move Up To Heavyweight
Many wondered why Jones is choosing now to come back. And why he’s moving up in weight when he’d be the overwhelming favorite to regain his lightweight title.
Some assumed it had to do with the weight cut. But now Jones is saying otherwise.
"The fear was gone. I didn't really fear these guys, and I wasn't happy with my pay either."
Jon Jones (@JonnyBones) shares what factors went into his decision to move up to HW w/@jimmysmithmma 👊 #UFC285
Source: Unlocking the Cage with Jimmy Smith pic.twitter.com/5eUxvS83bE
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) February 20, 2023
He outlined the reasons for moving up in a recent episode of “Unlocking the Cage” with Jimmy Smith.
“I don’t know if it was necessarily in my training,” Jones said. “I stopped studying footage as much (and) I started just looking forward to another day at the office. The fear was gone. I didn’t really fear these guys, and I wasn’t happy with my pay, either.
“I was starting to fight guys like (Dominick) Reyes, who had been dreaming of fighting me probably since college, and he was just relatively unknown to the general public. So I just wanted more. I wanted to be nervous again (and) I wanted to have fear again. I think fear is healthy, and now we’re in this position. The heavyweight division has never been scarier, and I’m glad to be right in the middle of it.”
Gane is certianly fearsome. The Frenchman is 10-1 in his MMA career and 7-1 in the UFC. He’s finished the fight in eight of his 10 victories, including five KOs or TKOs.
Will Jones be up to the ask? We’ll have to wait and see.