UFC 285: Why there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about Jon Jones’ heavyweight debut

Any discussion about the greatest mixed martial artists in history must include Jon Jones.

Jones has been terrorizing the light heavyweight division since joining the UFC in 2008, and his only loss came by disqualification against Matt Hamill in 2009. an admittedly long list of legal issues and drug test failures.

Throughout his reign in the 205-pound division, the idea of ​​moving up to the heavyweight division was constantly in the air, but it wasn’t until May 2020 that Jones vacated the light heavyweight title and decided it was time to test the division’s waters. The heaviest division in the UFC.

On Saturday, Jones will look to build on his goat business when he finally completes his long-awaited move up to the heavyweight division to face Cyril Gein for the world title. vacant UFC 285 main event title.

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While there’s a lot of excitement and intrigue surrounding Jones’ heavyweight debut, there’s also reason to wonder if he can replicate the same type of dominance he displayed at light heavyweight. Let’s take a look at some of the top factors that could lead to a disappointing heavyweight debut for one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time.

Three years out of competition

Jones last fought on February 8, 2020. He defeated Dominick Reyes in a highly controversial decision and scored a third successful title defense in his second run at light heavyweight. By May, Jones was discussing moving up to heavyweight to face Francis Ngannou, but the situation escalated into a nasty row between Jones and UFC President Dana White over his salary. White stated that Jones wanted “Deontay Wilder’s money”, suggesting that arguably the greatest fighter in UFC history is not worthy of the fee Wilder received in February in a rematch with Tyson Fury for the title WBC world heavyweight champion.

In response, Jones relinquished the light heavyweight title. tweet “I hurt myself every time I go there, get hit in the head and don’t feel like my salary is worth it.”

Although Jones eventually began training for a move up to heavyweight, the contract situation in early 2020 marked the beginning of a long period of inactivity for Jones. He has long stated that he would take the transition to heavyweight seriously and would like to take the time to prepare, which he did. But the fighters are fighting, and going from over a three-year hiatus to fighting arguably the best heavyweight on the UFC roster in Heine is certainly a challenge.

“I stopped studying footage so much, I just started looking forward to another day at the office,” Jones told Jimmy Smith in “Unlocking the Cage.” “The fear is gone, I really wasn’t afraid of those guys. I wasn’t happy with my salary either. the general public,” Jones admitted. “So I just wanted more. I wanted to be nervous again. I wanted to feel fear again. I think fear is healthy and we are in that position now.”

There are several examples of fighters who have been out of action for years, remaining in the sport’s elite, only to come back to face top level opponents again. Georges St-Pierre is perhaps the most famous, stepping down as the dominant welterweight champion only to return four years later to win the middleweight championship from Michael Bisping. T.J. Dillashaw was out for over two years due to failed drug tests resulting in the loss of the bantamweight championship and returned to take a hard-fought split decision over Corey Sandhagen before re-dislocating his shoulder in an attempt to regain the title from the new champion . Aljamain Sterling. Dominick Cruz was out for over three years before returning to the octagon, suffering a TKO loss to Henry Cejudo for the bantamweight title.

Just being out of the cage doesn’t predict results for other great athletes, but it certainly has to be kept in mind when it comes to the 35-year-old fighter.

Jones’ dominance at light heavyweight has already begun to wane.

Jones’ last two appearances in the octagon were a rare setback in his performances against the rest of the light heavyweights. In July 2019, Jones defended his title against Thiago Santo, but Santos had an incredible fight before losing by split decision. This fight marked the first time that Jones lost an official card in his career.

After this fight, he defended his title against Reyes. While Jones won that fight via unanimous decision, Reyes deserved to win far more than Santos did in the previous fight. Most of the media ratings for the fight were in favor of Reyes. While a rematch with Reyes may have made sense, Jones instead entered his feud with White, vacated his belt, and moved up to heavyweight.

Although he won both fights, there were cracks in Jones’ armor that had never been seen before. After the fight with Jones, Santos, who also had two knees badly damaged in the fight, was 1-4. Reyes lost his next three fights by knockout. While there are many factors that could have led these men to go from fighting the greatest light heavyweight to horrendous failures, it’s somewhat worrying that two men who are clearly not part of the 205-pound elite were able to push Jones to the limit. .

It’s also worth noting that Jones’ claims that he just got bored of competing in the division he dominated for so long may be valid and he stopped preparing like he has in the past.

Completely transformed body

In his three years of preparation for moving up to heavyweight, Jones significantly built up his physique. He was strong at light heavyweight, but it was his length, speed, and variety of attacks that made him a special talent. He has now gained weight almost to the heavyweight limit.

There is no doubt that this size will affect Jones’ speed. But it can also affect his punching and also greatly affect his cardio.

There are very few famous mixed martial artists who started their careers at light heavyweight, who moved up to heavyweight and ranked among the best in the world, and most of those who did did so quite early in their career.

It’s all hypothetical, but at 35, three years out of action and a brand new physique, there’s plenty of reason to believe Jones’ move to heavyweight might not be smooth sailing. Or maybe Jones at heavyweight will be the incredible success that many have been hoping for for a decade.


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