Jon Jones didn’t feel motivated, nervous, or compensated the way he would’ve liked prior to his move to the UFC heavyweight division.
After an over three-year layoff, Jones will return to the octagon to face Ciryl Gane for the vacant heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 285. The event takes place March 4 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
After the time away, transforming his body to a heavyweight frame, and adding an element of mystery to his skill set, Jones reflected on his final fights at 205 before vacating the light heavyweight title.
“I stopped studying footage as much, it started to feel more like another day at the office,” Jones said on Unlocking the Cage with Jimmy Smith. “The fear was gone. I didn’t really fear these guys.”
In his most recent appearance, Jones earned a controversial decision win over Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 in February 2020. From there, Jones decided to make the move up in hopes of a fight with then champion Francis Ngannou — who is now a free agent after parting ways with the UFC following his decision win over Gane in January 2022 at UFC 270.
When UFC president Dana White revealed that Ngannou was a free agent, and that Jones will face Gane for the vacant title at UFC 285, White also announced that “Bones” had signed a new eight-fight deal with the promotion. The longtime 205-pound champion clarified that he already had a lengthy deal in play, but this new contract is worth a lot more money — which was another major reason for his decision to move up to heavyweight.
“I wasn’t happy with my pay, either. I’m stuck fighting guys like Reyes — who had been dreaming of fighting me, probably since college, and [he] was just relatively unknown to the general public. I just wanted more, I wanted to be nervous again. I wanted to have fear again. I think fear is healthy, and now we’re in this position. The heavyweight division has never been scarier, and I’m glad to be in the middle of it,” Jones said.