Marc RaimondiESPN Writer2 minute read
LAS VEGAS — In mixed martial arts, there was Jon Jones and then everyone else for over a decade. After a weight increase and three years of absence, absolutely nothing has changed.
Jones defeated Ciryl Gane with a guillotine choke 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 fighter in MMA – this victory left no debate.
“I’ve been working for 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 still there. “
Frankly, Jones made it all easy. He took Gane down, put him in a sitting position against the cage and locked him in the chokehold. It was unorthodox; Gane seemed safe. But Jones put the pressure on and Gane had to tap out.
“I’ve been wrestling since I was 12,” Jones said. “I feel stronger and more comfortable on the pitch than ever before. … Once I got my hands on him, I knew that’s where I’m most at home. comfortable and that I can take control.”
Jones had not fought since February 2020. He relinquished the light heavyweight belt in August 2020, preparing to move up to heavyweight. Jones wanted time to progress in the right direction – and he got it. He’s built up over 25 pounds of muscle, weighing in at 248 pounds on Friday after being a 205-pound fighter his entire career.
Jones had been talking about moving up to heavyweight since 2012. He never really lost in the cage, with his only loss resulting in a controversial disqualification in a fight he was dominating.
The UFC heavyweight title was vacated by former champion Francis Ngannou, who left the UFC as a free agent earlier this year.
Jones’ win sets up a fight with Stipe Miocic, the most successful heavyweight fighter in UFC history and a former two-time champion.
“You all want to see me beat Stipe?” Jones said in his Octagon interview. “One thing I know about the UFC is that we give the fans what they want to see. Stipe Miocic, I hope you practice, man. You are the greatest heavyweight of all time. That’s what I want – I want you to be 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, recorded a victory over Dominick Reyes in his last bout defending the 205-pound title.
Jones, 35, was also the youngest fighter to win a UFC title (age 23) in 2011.
Gane (11-2), 32, was coming off a third-round knockout of Tai Tuivasa in September. The only other loss of his MMA career came in a unanimous decision loss to Ngannou for the UFC heavyweight title in January 2022 at UFC 270.