Jon Anik will be calling the action at UFC 285, which will include the first octagon appearance of Jon Jones in over three years.
Jones will make his heavyweight debut against Ciryl Gane for the vacant heavyweight title in the main event of Saturday’s card in Las Vegas. Anik, like most in the MMA community, is incredibly fascinated about the matchup, and Jones’ first fight since defeating Dominick Reyes in his final light heavyweight title defense at UFC 247 in February 2020, and subsequently vacating the belt later in the year.
“So there’s nothing quite like a Jon Jones walkout in so far as his relaxation and his enjoyment of the moment, juxtaposed against guys like Georges St-Pierre, who really didn’t enjoy fight night,” Anik said. “This guy really enjoys fight night and he has realized success even when there has been a binge-type training camp that has preceded these fights. He’s still been able to lean on that ticker and dig deep.
“He has seemingly been immune to pressure, at least in my eyes. I actually thought Thiago Santos beat him, and Dominick Reyes did not — I thought it was 3-2 for Santos, and I know I’m on an island there when it comes to that. But largely, Jon Jones hasn’t really had a flat fight night, like Floyd Mayweather, he’s always had that penchant for rising to the occasion. And there’s so much goddamn pressure on him at UFC 285, so how does he continue to just be immune to it? That’s the burning question for me.”
Anik will call the action, alongside Joe Rogan and former two-division champion Daniel Cormier. It appeared like we were heading towards a mega-fight between Jones and Francis Ngannou before the latter parted ways with the promotion earlier this year.
There have been many UFC fight weeks involving Jones that Anik has been a part of, and the longtime play-by-play voice believes there aren’t a lot of fighters he’s been around that have that undeniable superstar quality to them — although Jones is certainly near the top of his list.
“Certainly we’ve had some fighter meetings with Jon Jones over the years and he’s always just calm, cool, and collected,” Anik said. “I still get a little bit starstruck around him. There’s just something about him that just screams professional athlete when you walk in the room — the size and the mystique, the handshake, everything. There’s just something undeniably special about him and the sport is better with him in it.
“You can argue that stylistically, this is maybe the hardest of the three matchups when it came to Francis Ngannou, Stipe Miocic, and Ciryl Gane, and Ciryl Gane seems pretty relaxed. We’ll see how Jon Jones approaches it, we’ll see how he looks with his shirt off, but happy to have the GOAT back.”
Following UFC 284, the pound-for-pound debate has been hotly debated amongst fans after Islam Makhachev retained his lightweight title against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. With Jones returning, the consensus No. 1 for years while he was active in the 205-pound division, Anik says a Jones win, no matter how he does it, undoubtedly puts him in the discussion.
“Pound-for-pound is a weird discussion and I’m not trying to cop out, but we just put out ‘One More Sleep’ merchandise, and we have a GOAT design for Jon Jones coming back because he’s won 14 UFC title fights,” Anik explained. “If they hung banners in Albuquerque, N.M., Jon Jones would have 14 of them. Any time he is competing and winning belts, and in this case in a second division, yeah, let’s argue him.
“The hill I’ve repeatedly died on is that Jon Jones is the greatest of all-time. Yes, if Jon Anik’s pound-for-pound rankings f****** mattered, if Jon Jones beats Ciryl Gane — in whatever fashion — he can be No. 1 for me. But that tells you what I think of him that I have continued to push the GOAT narrative despite people wanting to push me away from that.”