Jones (26-1 MMA, 20-1 UFC) will return to the octagon after more than three years when he meets Ciryl Gane (11-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) in a matchup to crown a new champion in the aftermath of Francis Ngannou’s departure from the company. The fight takes place at T-Mobile Arena and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews and ESPN+.
There are many uncertainties about “Bones” given his 37-month break between fights, as well as his change of weight class, and the fact he’s now 35. His comeback is clouded by mystery, and Jones said he’s ready to show the world what this current version of him is all about.
“I believe I know the answers to these questions,” Jones told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s UFC 285 media day. “I feel awesome. I feel like I move really well. I have great pride in my endurance. … I feel great. I feel like a stronger version of myself. I’m not super lean, I don’t have a mean six-pack like I used to. That took me a while to get used to back in the day. I would judge my fitness level by how I look in the mirror. I’m a heavyweight now. It’s not about what you look like. It’s about how you perform.”
Jones, a former longtime light heavyweight champion, said he feels as tenacious as ever as he looks to make history and become the eighth fighter in company history to capture belts in two weight classes. Jones thinks his drive for greatness is unmatched, and he intends to give every bit of himself to achieve victory.
“If I go out there and stand in front of him and let him get into his rhythm then I’m sure he would have bad intentions,” Jone said. “I won’t be lulled to sleep by him and be like, ‘Oh, I’m just happy to be here. It’s just a sport. Life goes on if I win or lose.’ I think I fight for something a little bit different. There’s a dog inside of me. During the ‘Countdown’ his coach was like, ‘For the Tai Tuivasa fight we focused on bringing out Ciryl’s dog.’ I don’t feel like that’s something your coach should have to teach you about being a dog.
“I know that at the end of the day, I have a dog in me. I have a lion in me. I have a vicious warrior inside of me. It’s who I am. Losing’s not an option because it’s not just a sporting event to me. This is my life. This is my image. This is my legacy. This is me. My reasons why are really big. I don’t know if his energy matches mine when it comes to the seriousness of how I take this fight and game.”
After news of Jones’ fight at UFC 285 was announced, he said this latest chapter of his career might only consist of a few fights. Now that fight week has arrived, he slightly changed his stance. Jones wants to be active in 2023, and after that, he will reevaluate what the future should hold.
“I can’t predict the future,” Jones said. “I speak very confidently. I have a lot of belief. I have a lot of faith. But I can’t predict the future. This fight could be an absolute war, or it could be like, ‘Wow, he just blew through Gane.’ I don’t know how it’s going to look. I think I’m just going to base it on how I’m performing, how I’m feeling. I take it one fight at a time and my goals for myself personally is to make this look easy and to fight at least two times this year, and then we’ll just take it from there.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 285.