Jon Jones Set to Make Heavyweight Debut at UFC 285
After a three-year layoff, Jon Jones is set to make his debut in a new division at UFC 285 on March 4, where he’ll be facing Ciryl Gane in Las Vegas. Jones’ last appearance in the octagon was in Feb 2020, where he successfully defended his light heavyweight title against Dominick Reyes via a unanimous decision, tying Demetrious Johnson’s record for most UFC title defenses at 11. After this victory, Jones decided to vacate his title and debut at heavyweight, a move that he had been contemplating for many years. Jones has been preparing for this moment by bulking up and getting himself ready for the new division.
“I’m excited, I’m grateful, I feel humble, I feel appreciated by the company I work for, I feel like I’m in a really good place,” Jones told The Underground.
Jones told The Underground that he is excited and grateful for the opportunity to show fans what he’s been working on and that MMA feels fun to him again. He also mentioned that there are a lot of questions that keep him up at night, but it keeps him sharp and he feels like he’s in a good place. Jones also revealed that despite UFC President Dana White claiming that a fight with Stipe Miocic was never on the table, Jones says otherwise. Miocic was considered as plan B for Jones’ debut should things not work out with then-champion Francis Ngannou.
MMA feels fun to me again. Obviously, with being out for three years and a new division, there’s a lot of questions that cause me to stay up long nights, but it keeps me sharp. That’s something I felt like I didn’t have at light heavyweight toward the end. It just felt like another day at the office.
In the end, Ngannou couldn’t reach an agreement for a new deal with the UFC, resulting in his stripping of the title and release from his contract. Jones says that he was more interested in the original second option, fighting Miocic, as he feels that Miocic is the greatest heavyweight of all time. Jones also mentioned that he is honored to fight Gane and he knew it would be happening eventually, inevitably, but that’s the fight he was really bummed didn’t happen. Jones, 35, restructured his eight-fight deal with the promotion ahead of his fight with Gane and is now the second highest-paid UFC fighter of all time, according to his manager Richard Schaefer. He guarantees the fans at least two more fights out of him.
“It does [take away from my return not being Ngannou],” Jones said. “I feel like Francis is the more intimidating of the two. I feel like just as far as Americans go, I feel like he’s more known in America. Francis is this big, scary, intimidating man and whereas Ciryl is relatively unknown.