Jon Jones hopes to end all doubts about the greatest of all time at UFC 285
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jon Jones has spent the past three years at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, focusing on being with family, hunting and preparing for his big comeback.
He has hired a team to help him prepare for Saturday night when he will step up into the heavyweight division and try to end any doubt – if any – that he is the greatest. fighter in UFC history.
He made that case as a light heavyweight by winning a record 14 title fights and is on a UFC-best 18-game unbeaten streak, giving him a 26-1 record with one unbeaten record. competition. Next up is Frenchman Ciryl Gane, who at 11-1 is the top ranked heavyweight.
A win could also put Jones, 35, back in the conversation for top pound-for-pound fighter, a spot currently held by featherweight Alexander Volkanovski.
“I’m fighting to be the greatest fighter of all time, not to be the best pound for pound right now,” Jones said.
Her fight against Gane for the vacant heavyweight title is the showpiece event of UFC 285. In the best undercard match, women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko (23-3) of Kyrgyzstan takes on sixth-ranked Alexa Grasso ( 15-3) from Mexico.
Almost all eyes will be on Jones, who not only has to prove he can make it in the heavyweight division since he was one tier lower, but also that the lengthy layoff won’t affect him negatively.
Jones said he hasn’t been idle even though he hasn’t fought in the UFC since defeating Dominick Reyes via unanimous decision on Feb. 8, 2020. He said he’s become more stronger than ever, even though his body wasn’t as toned. . But Jones said it was because of the extra weight to fight in the top class.
Middleweight Dricus Du Plessis, who will face Derek Brunson in a preliminary bout, said he believes Jones will win and has the mental and physical capacity to overcome such a long stretch away from competition. But Du Plessis also offered a caveat.
“Three years is a very long time,” Du Plessis said. “I don’t think he’s a guy who’s going to struggle with ring rust. I just think the game is changing and it’s changing rapidly, especially in the last two years. The game waits for no one.
Jones, for his part, is confident that this fight will end like so many others.
He questioned Gane’s will to fight, saying it didn’t show when he lost to Francis Ngannou via unanimous decision on January 22, 2022.
“I just can’t see myself losing to a guy like Ciryl Gane,” Jones said.
Should Gane, a 138+ underdog according to FanDuel Sportsbook, pick up the win, it would set him up for a potentially big year. Not only would he claim the heavyweight belt, but a win would likely put him in line for a meeting with second-ranked Stipe Miocic.
“It’s definitely going to put my resume on top,” said Gane, 32.
Even a win, however, wouldn’t put his resume on par with Jones.
But it’s not all about what happens in the octagon with Jones. He was suspended for a year in 2016 for a failed drug test and his 2017 win over Daniel Cormier turned into a no contest after another drug test came back positive.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency changed the criteria for what constitutes a positive test in 2019, and Jones said he would have passed under the revised standards.
“People thought of me as a cheater,” Jones said. “Now if that same rule had applied back then, it would never have even made the media. It would never have been a deal at all. My victory over Daniel Cormier would not be a no-contest. That would be a knockout blow, so hopefully with these rule changes, maybe we can go back and make that no contest a win. That would mean a lot to me.
“I took the ball for this sport…and I’m glad the fighters of the future can avoid what I went through. It was hell to be branded a steroid cheater. And I’m glad people see clearly now that I never was and feel liberated.
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