Coach believes Jon Jones going to be ‘one of those athletes that walks away early,’ won’t ‘have too much more to prove’
Jon Jones is back, but for how long?
The former light heavyweight champion returned from a three-year hiatus at UFC 285 to claim the vacant UFC heavyweight title with a dominant win over Cyril Gein. Overall, it was one of the best performances of Jones’ career, and at the age of 35, Jones had plenty of time to win the title again. But is Jones interested in staying in his new weight class for the long haul?
His longtime coach Brandon Gibson appeared on Wednesday at Hour of MMA and hinted that MMA fans should probably enjoy this eternal fight while they still can.
“I don’t know, I’ll leave it up to John,” Gibson said when asked about Jones’ future. “I think physically and mentally he can go a long way. And we’ve seen a lot of great heavyweights put on incredible performances in their 40s – I mean, even Stipe. [Miocic] is [almost] 41. But I think that John will be one of those athletes who leave early. He’s going to leave early, I think so. I think John will ride off into the sunset and we MMA fans will still be clamoring for another one or talking about possible fights.
“But I don’t think John has anything else to prove.
Jones is one of the longest serving athletes in the UFC. He made his debut in the promotion in 2008 – the same year as his MMA debut – and has fought 23 fights in the octagon in his 15-year career without suffering legal defeat. During this time, Jones has defeated numerous fighters from both the past and present generation, compiling a cage resume that is considered the greatest in mixed martial arts history, including an incredible 15-0 record in UFC title fights. , the largest figure in advertising history.
Yet somehow, Gain’s two-minute submission made Jones look better than ever in his long-awaited heavyweight debut.
“He’s still getting better, my friend,” Gibson said. “Age is just a way of thinking. It’s just a way of thinking when it comes to Jon Jones. Maybe not for the rest of us, but for John it is.”
“He took away generations, right? Gibson later added. “He took out the previous generation of legends – the Shoguns, the Rampages – and then he took out all his peers and he is still performing at the highest level here. It drives me crazy. Actually I was walking out of the arena last night and ran into [former opponents] Rashad [Evans] and Anthony [Smith]and I love Rashad very much, it was nice to see him and he was just blown away. Like, “Dude, I can’t believe how good John is.” Still. To become better.'”
For now, though, Jones is back in the thick of things.
He is already calling for his first UFC heavyweight title defense against former two-time champion Stipe Miocic, the man considered by many to be the greatest UFC heavyweight of all time. The UFC has tentatively set its sights on International Fight Week for the bout, with all eyes on UFC 290 on July 8 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Gibson said the Jones team was “absolutely” against the plan.
“I think it would be a different conversation if [Jones] would have been hurt or wounded in some way on Saturday night, but he said he hurt more from the warm-up than from the fight,” Gibson said. “I think he will have a quick turnaround. And you know, a lot of the guys who helped us through this training camp have fights coming up and John wants to join in and help those guys. So he’s a real team leader, a real captain, and a real brother to these guys, so I know he wants to come back and start helping out.
“I am all for July. I think John has all the tools, momentum and motivation to go there and put on another dominating performance in July.”
Jones will have to work hard against Miocic.
The Ohio native is the most decorated UFC heavyweight champion in history, with four combined title defenses over two titles. He also holds the record for most consecutive UFC heavyweight title defenses (3) and has beaten a litany of legends in his 13-year career with wins over Daniel Cormier (x2), Fabrizio Werdum, Alistair Overeem, Francis Ngannou, Junior dos Santos, Mark Hunt and others.
“I think we still have a lot of respect for Stipe. He is a dangerous man,” Gibson said. “He has amazing cardio for a heavyweight, he has strength in both hands, he can absorb hits with his heels, he has great pressing, great control in the clinch, great wrestling. This is the man who defeated Daniel Cormier. We have to train for one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, which will bring many unique challenges.
“But no, on the other hand, Stipe and his team have to train for Jon Jones and I don’t think there is any clear path to victory. [against] John. But we’re going to take this very seriously. I know John will be very motivated. He considers Stipe to be the greatest heavyweight of all time and I think that’s another cliché that cements John’s status as a GOAT.”
If Jones beats Miocic, it will put a hell of a name on his resume.
But is there any chance that after this, Jones will decide to finally retire from MMA?
“I don’t know. He has a lot of fire, I think he has a lot of motivation and I’ll leave that up to John,” Gibson said. “I think that time away was really good for him and for us as a team During this time, he did not receive a single injury or damage, which I think is really key for future fights. But I think that we will take each of them as a separate camp and will not look past him at all.