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Striking coach Brandon Gibson sees Jon Jones developing one-shot KO power

Jon Jones is awaiting the resolution of his latest USADA suspension.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Brandon Gibson is one of the men responsible for developing Jon Jones’s striking, and he thinks that “Bones” is just getting started when it comes to his standup skills.

Already one of the most decorated fighters in mixed martial arts history, Jones recently wrote an Instagram post in which he stated that he plans to return to competition as “a more complete version than the world has ever seen.” Jones is currently in the midst of a USADA case stemming from his second failed drug test, one of several outside-of-the-cage blemishes that have cast a long shadow on his career.

Should Jones avoid the maximum USADA penalty of four years and return to action in the near future, Gibson still sees the former light heavyweight champion as having limitless potential. Commenting on Jones’s post, the JacksonWink MMA coach told Luke Thomas on The MMA Hour that it’s Jones’s finishing ability that could become even more potent.

“I think there’s still a lot of growth possible,” Gibson said. “Jon’s in his 30s now, I think he’s really starting to develop the one-strike knockout power, we saw that in the last (Daniel Cormier) fight. Before that, Jon was like a break ‘em down, break ‘em down, break ‘em down, finish, where guys were never just out cold, unconscious. I think now Jon’s really developing a lot of power for 205 and he’s gonna really start putting guys to sleep.”

Given that Jones has finished the likes of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida, and Cormier — the latter result, originally a head-kick knockout win for Jones, was overturned to a no-contest after Jones’s most recent drug test failure — it’s intriguing to imagine how much more effective the 31-year-old could become at putting his opponents away.

Another reason that Gibson expects Jones to be even better when he returns is that he’s had time to rest, even though it’s been an unwanted hiatus that has kept Jones from getting actual in-cage reps.

“He’s had long periods of breaks,” Gibson said. “There was a long layoff before the first DC fight. There was a long layoff to the [Ovince Saint Preux] fight. There was a long layoff to the DC two match. But I also think that this is a game where guys are paying too high of a price in training camps and sparring leading up to fights, so Jon’s layoff definitely has some benefits. But the lack of competition could also be a hindrance at times, so it’s gonna be a balance, but we never have a problem getting Jon Jones fired up.

“He’s a special champion, he has a very special mindset, and he’ll get in there and I believe reclaim everything that he ever had and more. I told him the other day that I think greatness and his legacy continue to await us. We’re not there yet.”

Currently, Jones’s rival Cormier holds not only the light heavyweight title that Jones successfully defended for several years, but also the UFC heavyweight title. There has long been speculation that Jones would consider a move up to the heavyweight division and now that it’s ruled over by Cormier, a fighter that Jones has had success against in two previous encounters, the questions have again arose about whether he will actually make the jump.

Gibson doesn’t see Jones leaving light heavyweight until he fights again for the belt; however, should the UFC ever implement more weight classes as has been suggested by several fighters, then he doesn’t see why Jones can’t become a multiple-division champion.

“I think the goal right now when he returns would be to claim back the light heavyweight crown,” Gibson said, “But Jon has a frame and definitely the technique and the size to compete at heavyweight. And who knows, maybe they make a 225 cruiserweight some day, or 195. I think Jon would have a lot of interest in different weight categories, not just heavyweight.”

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