Jon Jones has always considered himself a student of the game, but it appears at UFC 285 he plans on teaching Ciryl Gane a thing or two.
Ahead of their showdown on Saturday night, Jones called Gane the “most incomplete” heavyweight among the top-five fighters in the world. After months of exhausting training and film study, Jones explained why he essentially considers his opponent slightly one-dimensional, especially when it comes to a skill set built for MMA.
“I respect Ciryl Gane, I really do,” Jones said at the UFC 285 pre-fight press conference. “I say this humbly, but I study film constantly, and I just see a lot of patterns.
“When he is in one stance, there’s things he really loves to do. He goes to the same well a lot. When he’s in the opposite stand, he has a lot of tendencies.”
Prior to his rematch against Daniel Cormier in 2017, Jones openly pointed out a pattern he saw in his longtime rival; he said Cormier was susceptible to a head kick as a counter strike. Like clockwork, Cormier made the move, and Jones launched a kick that ultimately led to a third-round knockout.
While he’s not calling his shot quite as emphatically this time around, Jones points specifically at Gane’s grappling. That could be a major area of attention for the ex-champ when they finally clash in the octagon.
“I realize he doesn’t have much wrestling,” Jones said. “He relies on evasion, trying to get away. He relies on jiu-jisu instead of solid takedown defense. Same with the ground game. I watched Francis Ngannou be able to rack up maybe five or six minutes of top time in that fight, and Francis is not a guy that’s known to control people on top.
“He does have the striking down. I don’t think defensively, he’s a very strong kickboxer. He has a really nice offense. His defense is mainly in his footwork. Two other big holes are jiu-jitsu and wrestling.”
When it comes to compliments, Jones has always viewed Gane as a dangerous opponent on the feet, which seems logical considering the French heavyweight comes from a Muay Thai background.
That said, Jones picked apart Gane’s weaknesses in striking, particularly late in the Frenchman’s fights.
“I would say that his footwork is rare for a heavyweight,” Jones said. “It’s not something he sustains for an entire fight. Round 1, Round 2, maybe even Round 3, depending on how things are going, he moves around a lot more than the average heavyweight. But I’ve seen through footage that usually by the championship rounds, a lot of that bounce is gone.
“Then another thing that makes him really different, a lot of heavyweights they depend on proper defense to block punches and block kicks. Where we notice Ciryl Gane just likes to back out really quick. But that’s his gift, the ability to move his feet. Outside of that, I feel like everything in his skill set are things that I’ve seen before.”
As the press conference came to a close, Jones and Gane faced off for the first time with the heavyweights coming nose-to-nose ahead of their main event matchup at UFC 285.
Unlike so many of his past fights, Jones maintained eye contact with Gane, as if truly sizing up his opponent for the first time.
“He looks like a heavyweight,” Jones said of Gane prior to the staredown. “A big boy, a big athlete. I’m excited for the challenge.”