LAS VEGAS — In mixed martial arts, there has been Jon Jones and then everyone else for more than a decade. After an increase in weight and three years away, absolutely nothing has changed.
Jones defeated Ciryl Gane with a guillotine choke after 2 minutes, 4 seconds of the first round 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 left no debate.
“I’ve been working for this for a long time,” Jones said in his postfight interview. “A lot of people thought I wouldn’t come back. I’ve stayed true to my goal. I’ve stayed true to the mission. There were days I didn’t want to train and I was always there.”
Frankly, Jones made it all look easy. He took Gane down, sat him against the cage and locked in the choke. It was unorthodox; Palate seemed safe. But Jones clamped down and Gane had to press.
“I’ve been wrestling since I was 12 years old,” Jones said. “I feel stronger and more comfortable on the ground than ever before… Once I got my hands on him, I knew that’s where I’m most comfortable and I can take control.”
Jones had not fought since February 2020. He relinquished the light heavyweight belt in August 2020 and prepared for a move up to heavyweight. Jones wanted time to move up the right path – and he got it. He packed on more than 25 pounds of muscle and weighed in at 248 pounds on Friday after being a 205-pound fighter his entire career.
Jones had talked about moving up to heavyweight back in 2012. He has never really lost in the cage, and his lone loss came in a controversial disqualification in a fight that he dominated.
The UFC heavyweight title was vacated by former champion Francis Ngannou, who left the UFC as a free agent earlier this year.
Jones’ victory sets up a fight with Stipe Miocic, the most successful heavyweight fighter in UFC history and a former two-time champion.
“You guys want to see me beat Stipe?” Jones said in his Octagon interview. “One thing I know about the UFC is we give the fans what they want to see. Stipe Miocic, I hope you train, man. You’re the greatest heavyweight of all time. That’s what I want — I want have you are really bad.”
Jones (27-1, 1 NC) holds the UFC records for longest unbeaten streak (19), title fight wins (15) and title defenses (11, tied with Demetrious Johnson). The New York native, who lives and trains in Albuquerque, New Mexico, last fought in February 2020, a victory over Dominick Reyes in defense of the 205-pound title.
Jones, 35, was also the youngest fighter to win a UFC title (age 23) back in 2011.
Gane (11-2), 32, was coming off a third-round knockout of Tai Tuivasa in September. The only other loss in his MMA career came in a unanimous decision defeat to Ngannou for the UFC heavyweight title in January 2022 at UFC 270.