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Jon Jones ready for UFC return after body transformation



Considered by many to be the greatest MMA fighter in history, Jon Jones will return to the Octagon on Saturday for the first time in three years; but with a different look.

The 35-year-old, who has 26 UFC victories under his belt, has stepped up a weight division for his highly anticipated comeback, where he will face Ciryl Gane for the heavyweight title.

The two men came face to face ahead of Thursday’s fight and fans got a glimpse of Jones’ new physique.

“I developed a lot of belly and a lot of a**,” Jones told BT Sport, adding that he liked being able to eat more in the build-up to the fight.

“It’s amazing. It just allows me to have as much fun with the media and with the fans as possible.

Photos and videos of Jones in training have followed his transformation from a lean, lanky fighter to a much heavier man.

Since stepping away from the sport in 2020, Jones has worked with the likes of American bodybuilder Stan Efferding to make the leap into the weight class.

Jones says Efferding lived with him for nine months to help with his training, teaching him the importance of sleep and diet.

It’s quite the change from his days as a light heavyweight fighter and there are questions about his body’s ability to handle the added strain – Jones weighed in at 248lbs for the main event of Saturday, compared to the 204 pounds he weighed in his last fight of 2020.

Jones, however, is confident and eager to challenge himself against a new division of fighters.

“I feel awesome,” he told reporters Thursday, saying he hoped to make the fight easy. “I feel like I’m moving well. I’m very proud of my endurance.

“I feel great. Honestly, I feel like a stronger version of myself. I’m not super skinny, I don’t have a six-pack like I used to.

“It took me a while to get used to it. At the time, I judged my fitness level by the way I looked in the mirror, but I’m a heavyweight now.

“It’s not about your appearance, it’s about your performance.”

Jon Jones fighting Thiago Santos in 2019.

The pair will fight for the heavyweight title belt which was vacated by Francis Ngannou after he left the UFC in January.

Jones’ French opponent has won 11 UFC fights and lost only once, against former champion Ngannou.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the fight, Gane said his previous experience in the heavyweight division could give him the edge over Jones, who has teased a rise in weight throughout his career.

“I have more experience in this division. Trust me, a lot of people underestimate me and my wrestling game, so we’ll see this Saturday,” Gane said Thursday.

“It’s a big test for me. Maybe, really, the biggest test of my life, so I’m really happy about it.

The pair will meet at UFC 285 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.

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