Despite the divergent roads the UFC rivals have traveled over the last year, with Jones bulking up for an eventual heavyweight debut and Adesanya returning to middleweight after a one-fight dalliance at 205 pounds, the superfight between Adesanya and Jones is one that “The Last Stylebender” still expects to entertain before all is said and done.
“The story’s not told yet, Ariel,” Adesanya told host Ariel Helwani on Monday’s relaunch of The MMA Hour. “The story’s still out there.”
Adesanya, 32, is a perfect 10-0 in the UFC middleweight division and made the third successful defense of his title in June with a dominant win over Marvin Vettori.
He and Jones have publicly sparred in the press and on social media since the early days of Adesanya’s UFC run, and a fight between the two has — at times — felt inevitable as a big-money blockbuster for the promotion. For now though, Jones remains in limbo.
The former two-time UFC champion has been preparing for a heavyweight debut since vacating his light heavyweight title in May 2020, however stalled negotiations with the UFC have kept Jones on the sidelines for all of 2021 — and may keep him out until at least 2022.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to see Jon Jones fight at heavyweight,” Adesanya said.
“F*ck, he’s been saying this since 2013. You either get it done or you don’t.”
Adesanya would know, because he just did exactly that. In March, Adesanya vaulted up to the light heavyweight division and tested himself in a champion vs. champion affair against Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259. Adesanya ultimately lost a decision to Blachowicz — which still stands as the lone blemish of his professional MMA career — but the fight was competitive and Adesanya is simply happy to have challenged himself to be great.
“For me, I jumped up [a division] within three years of [being with] the company,” Adesanya said. “I jumped into the division ahead of me. The guys up there respect me — even the champion up there gave me my props. So yeah, I just think it’s not something that anyone can do. And he’s getting fat for no reason now.”
For now, both Jones and Adesanya have other priorities on their respective plates.
UFC president Dana White recently said he expects to see Jones back in action in 2022, potentially against the winner of a Francis Ngannou vs. Ciryl Gane title unification bout, while Adesanya is also expected to defend his middleweight title against Robert Whittaker sometime in early 2022 after tentative plans for UFC 268 in November fell through.
But don’t get it twisted: Jones certainly remains on Adesanya’s to-do list. And he’ll remain so until the score is settled between two of the game’s best pound-for-pound fighters.
“I see it. I see it 100 percent,” Adesanya said. “But that’s the thing. You’ve got to know when to hold them, you’ve got to know when to fold them, and the song is not over yet. So stay tuned. We’ll fight one day. I don’t know where or how it’s going to happen. I just have an idea of what’s going to happen. But yeah, see if he moves up in weight first. See if he moves up in weight first and deals with these guys there. I think he can, but does he think he can?”
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