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‘He’s on point’: Yorgan de Castro says ‘it’s f****** hard to spar’ with Jon Jones at heavyweight

Yorgan de Castro, Jon Jones and Domingos Barros in the gym.
Photo via Yorgan de Castro

Yorgan de Castro was one of the men enlisted by Jon Jones to help the all-time great prepare for his heavyweight debut at UFC 285, battling Ciryl Gane for the vacant title, and had a taste of what “Bon Gamin” will face inside the octagon in Las Vegas.

De Castro, a UFC veteran who is now scheduled to face 2022 PFL heavyweight champion Ante Delija on April 1, said on Trocação Franca podcast that Jones is carrying more weight and power after his transition to heavyweight without losing his speed, making him a much more dangerous athlete.

“I’ve fought at light heavyweight as an amateur and in my first professional fights and I couldn’t knock anyone out, even the old lady from across the street,” de Castro said with a laugh. “When I moved up to heavyweight, that [power] comes with you. You’re carrying more [than] 35 pounds. I’m telling you, he’s about to do some damage at heavyweight and can end this fight by knockout.”

“The Mad Titan” has only been knocked out once in 12 professional MMA bouts and is proud of his chin, but said that being in the cage with Jones is a whole other game.

“His punch has more power,” said de Castro, who has been training with Jones for a year in New Mexico. “I can take a punch but it’s f****** hard to spar with him [laughs]. I’m telling you, he’s on point. He was always a heavyweight and trained with guys like [Andrei] Arlovski and Frank Mir. He has no problem fighting at heavyweight. This man is obsessed. He’s incredible. I’ve never seen someone as obsessed as hm. He trains f****** hard and is obsessed about everything. He wouldn’t be fighting at heavyweight if he wasn’t ready.”

“He’s training for this for three years now,” he continued. “I came here last year and he was already at 253 pounds. Very strong, moving well. I think he’ll have no problem at heavyweight. You’ll see that on March 4. He’s fast, cardio is on top. I’ve trained with a lot of heavyweights my entire life and he’s unique. His fight IQ is on another level, he can adapt between rounds. He’s doing rounds with seven different heavyweights and has no problem doing it.”

Gane is a former UFC interim heavyweight champion with a record of 11-1 that includes victories over Junior dos Santos, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Alexander Volkov, Derrick Lewis and Tai Tuisava, but his sole defeat, a decision to Francis Ngannou in 2022, has shown a possible path to victory for Jones.

“Everybody thinks Ciryl Gane was the toughest match-up. Ngannou is tougher, he’s stronger and has knockout power,” de Castro said. “Ciryl Gane, when was the last time he knocked someone out? He beat Tai Tuivasa, but his other fights were by decision. He doesn’t have that power. Francis Ngannou is constant danger.

“Ciryl Gane can move, he’s a unique heavyweight because of that. He moves and changes the way he fights, has good kicks, but we’ve seen he has no wrestling. Francis Ngannou did what he wanted with him, so imagine that Jon Jones will do with his wrestling — and his jiu-jitsu and ground and pound, those elbows. He’ll close the distance, and it’s going to get ugly for Ciryl Gane. It’s the perfect fight for Jon Jones.”

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