The fight would serve as Jones’ first bout at heavyweight after he reigned over the 205-pound division for his entire career. Miocic, on the other hand, hasn’t fought since losing his title to Francis Ngannou in March 2021, but a win over somebody like Jones would almost certainly put him back in line to battle for gold again.
When the odds for the fight were first released, betting experts had Jones as a 2-to-1 favorite over Miocic. But fellow heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes believes anybody expecting that fight to be easy for either man just doesn’t know enough about the sport.
“I feel like when you say people, do you mean casuals or do you mean the educated MMA fans?” Blaydes said in reaction on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “Because I think the educated MMA fans understand this fight is legitimately a pick ‘em. It could go either way.”
Blaydes acknowledged the talent that Jones brings with him to the heavyweight division, but noted it will still be Jones’ first time engaging with bigger, stronger, and more powerful opposition. And that’s especially true when dealing with somebody like Miocic, who has 15 career knockouts on his résumé, including four in UFC title fights.
That power possessed by Miocic is what Blaydes expects to be the difference against a fighter in Jones who might be the greatest mixed martial artist in history but has also never been hit by someone as dangerous as the former UFC heavyweight champion.
“Jon, he hasn’t shown that one-punch knockout power,” Blaydes explained. “What he has shown, he is extremely creative. He’ll hit you with elbows, knees, teeps, all types of different stuff. Even on the ground, he’s aggressive. He’s looking for submissions. He’s looking to drop elbows. He brings a lot to the table, but the biggest thing he doesn’t have is the power. I think that’s always the equalizer.
“I would pick Stipe to win this. Just because he’s been in five-round heavyweight fights multiple times and he’s shown one-punch power when he knocked out Fabricio [Werdum], when he knocked out Alistair [Overeem]. I know that wasn’t one punch, but it was one punch that set up the finish. He’s already shown that, and he has the wrestling, he has the conditioning. I just believe he’s a smart enough fighter, he’ll be able to figure out Jon after two or three rounds. He’ll start to land. His punches are going to hurt more than the punches of a Jon Jones. That’s just what I think. I think it could go either way.”
In Jones most recent fight in 2020, he absorbed 119 strikes from Dominick Reyes, who had the then-champion on the ropes in the early rounds before slowing down later in the fight. Despite losing a decision, Reyes has always maintained that he should’ve been victorious that night, yet ultimately Jones still left with his title intact.
As much as he respects Reyes and the pop in his own punches, Blaydes knows it’s still a different story getting hit by somebody like Miocic at heavyweight.
“I’ve sparred with [Dominick Reyes] before, multiple times,” Blaydes said. “He does hit hard, but it ain’t like getting hit by a heavyweight. It ain’t the same.”
Blaydes gives Jones credit for the ability to turn the tables on Miocic if he approaches the fight the correct way, which is why he’s hesitant to guarantee victory for either competitor.
“What if Jon Jones comes out and takes down Stipe and he’s on top?” Blaydes said. “We haven’t seen Stipe on bottom. I guess we have against [Daniel Cormier], but the dimensions of ‘DC’ vs. Jon Jones are different. He’s a different guy. I think it’s going to be interesting. I would pick Stipe, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he lost either.”
With his own fight scheduled against Tom Aspinall at UFC London on Saturday, Blaydes isn’t putting too much time thinking about what’s next for him, but he’s always loved the idea of facing Miocic one day after they trained together briefly at the start of his fighting career.
Blaydes still considers Miocic to be one of the toughest matchups for him in the division, and that’s why he’s dreamed of testing himself against arguably the best heavyweight to ever compete in the UFC.
“I think stylistically we’re the most similar,” Blaydes said of Miocic. “He’s a smart, technical boxer, who uses his footwork. That’s what I strive to do. This is one thing that he does that I’m looking to add into my game. He doesn’t force the takedowns. Sometimes I just force it.
“I just have it in my head, we’re going to the ground. He allows the takedowns to happen organically so it’s smoother and it doesn’t take as much energy. Me, I don’t mind spending the energy because I think it’s worth it, because once I get on top, that’s when I get to rest. But that’s something I’ve always been focusing on implementing — not telegraphing the takedowns or being so intentional about it. Just allow it to happen. That’s something I admire about his game.”