July 25, 2024

Jon Jones feels he is in great shape for his much-anticipated heavyweight debut in the main event of UFC 285 in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Widely considered one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, the 35-year-old will face Ciryl Gane for the vacant heavyweight title following Francis Ngannou’s decision to leave the UFC in January.

Jones’ last professional MMA bout was in February 2020, where he successfully defended the light-heavyweight championship at UFC 247.

Six months later, the American vacated the title and began preparing for his next goal – to become the heavyweight champion.

“The last time you saw me I weighed 220lbs, the night I fought Dominick Reyes,” Jones told BBC Sport.

“Fast forward three years and one month, I weigh 250lbs and I feel every bit of a heavyweight. I move very well.

Adding just over two stone in three years was methodically planned with nutrition and weightlifting regimes.

Jones would eat 5,000 calories a day and was quick to highlight red meat as the main source behind his weight transformation. He was half a pound heavier than Gane at the weigh-in on Friday, weighing 248lbs.

“[I ate] a lot of rice and a lot of oatmeal in the morning, I’ve eaten a lot of red meat for the last three years,” he explained.

“A lot of steaks, a lot of hamburger meat, a lot of ground beef, a lot of ground buffalo, eggs for breakfast and eggs for lunch.

“For breakfast, we are going to have oatmeal, some days rice, we’ll have about five eggs, avocado, some light fruit and that’s about it.

“A lot of time it’s steak and eggs, steak for breakfast.”

Deadlifting 635lbs to become ‘true heavyweight’

Jones, who holds 14 title fight wins – the most in UFC history – believes the extra calories have enabled him to lift more weight in the gym, which has subsequently added extra muscle mass.

“My deadlift right now is around 585lbs (265kg) for one [rep], but towards the end of training camp, my numbers started to slow down because I work on a lot of explosiveness,” he said.

“I work on a lot of speed drills and stuff like that. At my heaviest, I was deadlifting around 635lbs (288kg) and 640lbs (290kg).”

Should he beat Frenchman Gane, Jones will become only the third man in UFC history to capture light-heavyweight and heavyweight gold – following in the footsteps of long-time rival Daniel Cormier and Randy Couture.

Jon Jones in 2019 and Jon Jones in 2023
Jon Jones has piled on 44lbs since last fighting in 2020 at light-heavyweight

Fans got a glimpse of the beefed-up Jones at the media day on Wednesday, where photos of his physique began to circulate for the first time.

He was amused by the reaction, with many suggesting he looked more fat than muscular.

“Good thing it’s not a bodybuilding competition. I have the strength and explosiveness of a lion right now,” he wrote on Instagram in response.

“I can focus on leaning out better for my next fight. Most importantly I am 250lbs, still moving like a light-heavyweight.”

And despite taking three years, Jones admits the jump up to heavyweight was a decision he did not take lightly.

“I got myself to a weight where I felt like I could compete as a true heavyweight against these guys,” he added.

“The timing just worked out. I felt like the stars were starting to align.”

‘People will consider me the best fighter ever’

Jon Jones with his UFC title around his waist after a win
Jones has just one loss on his record, a controversial disqualification loss to Matt Hamill in 2009

The discussion around who is the greatest MMA fighter of all time has surfaced once again leading into Jones’ return.

The New York native has faced numerous personal issues outside fighting, from a hit-and-run incident in 2015 to facing a domestic violence charge in 2021, which was eventually dropped in a plea deal arrangement.

Jones has also served two lengthy doping bans during his 15-year fighting career.

He is also the youngest UFC champion, having claimed a first world title aged 23.

Jones believes victory over the 32-year-old Gane – which would be his 27th in 29 contests – will cement his position as the best fighter in MMA history.

“I am aware of who I am and where I stand in the sport,” he said.

“I try to be a humble guy, but the facts are the facts. The fans see what they see, a lot of people do consider me as the best ever.

“I do wholeheartedly believe after Saturday night it will be an undisputed thing, the conversation will be over. People will consider me the best fighter ever and the best fighter of his generation.”


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