Mark RaimondiESPN staff writer2 minutes to read
LAS VEGAS – In mixed martial arts, there has been Jon Jones and then everyone else for over a decade. After gaining weight and being away three years, absolutely nothing has changed.
Jones defeated Ciryl Gane with a guillotine choke at 2 minutes and 4 seconds into the first round on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 285 at T-Mobile Arena. Jones is now the UFC Heavyweight Champion after owning the light heavyweight division for years. He was already considered the greatest MMA fighter – this victory did not leave any discussion.
“I’ve been working towards this for a long time,” Jones said in his post-fight interview. “A lot of people thought I wouldn’t come back. I was true to my purpose. I was true to the mission. There were days when I didn’t want to train and I was always there.”
Honestly, Jones made the whole thing look easy. He lowered Gene and placed him in a sitting position in front of the cage and locked him in a chokehold. It was funky. Jean seemed safe. But Jones put the pressure on and Jane had to click.
“I’ve been wrestling since I was twelve,” said Jones. “I feel stronger and more comfortable on the ground than ever before. … Once I got my hands on it, I knew that was where I felt most comfortable and could control it.”
Jones has not fought since February 2020. He relinquished the light heavyweight belt in August 2020, preparing to move up to heavyweight. Jones wanted time to move in the right way – and he got it. He’s gained over 25 pounds of muscle, weighing in at 248 pounds on Friday after being a 205-pound fighter his entire career.
Jones has talked about moving up to heavyweight back in 2012. He has never lost in the cage, with his only defeat coming on a controversial disqualification in a match he controlled.
The UFC Heavyweight title has been vacated by former champion Francis Ngannou, who left the UFC as a free agent earlier this year.
Jones’ victory led to a fight with Stipe Miocic, the most successful heavyweight fighter in UFC history and a two-time former champion.
“Do you want to see me hit Step?” Jones said in an interview with the appraiser. “One thing I know about the UFC is that we give fans what they want to see. Stipe Miocic, I hope you’re training, my man. You’re the greatest heavyweight ever. That’s what I want – I want you really bad.”
Jones (27-1, 1 NC) owns UFC records for longest undefeated streak (19), victories in title fights (15) and title defenses (11, tied with Demetrius Johnson). The New York native, who lives and trains in Albuquerque, New Mexico, scored a win over Dominic Reyes in his final fight to defend the 205-pound title.
Jones, 35, was also the youngest fighter to win a UFC title (age 23) in 2011.
Jan (11-2), 32, was knocked out by a third-round knockout of Tai Toivasa in September. The only other loss of his MMA career came in a unanimous decision defeating Ngannou for the UFC Heavyweight Title in January 2022 at UFC 270.
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