Marc RaimondiESPN Staff Writer4 Minute Read
LAS VEGAS — In mixed martial arts, there has been Jon Jones and then everyone else for more than a decade. After a move up in weight and three years away, absolutely nothing has changed.
Jones defeated Ciryl Gane with a guillotine choke at 2 minutes, 4 seconds of the first round Saturday night in the main event of UFC 285 at T-Mobile Arena. Jones is now the UFC heavyweight champion after owning the light heavyweight division for years. He was already regarded as the greatest MMA fighter — this victory left zero debate.
“I’ve been working for this for a long time,” Jones said in his postfight interview. “A lot of people thought I wasn’t coming back. I’ve been faithful to my goal. I’ve been faithful to the mission. There were days I didn’t want to train and I was always there.”
Frankly, Jones made the whole thing look easy. He took Gane down, got him in a seated position against the cage and locked in the choke. It was unorthodox; Gane seemed safe. But Jones put on the squeeze and Gane had to tap.
“I’ve been wrestling since I was 12 years old,” Jones said. “I feel stronger and more comfortable on the ground than ever. … Once I got my hands on him, I knew that’s where I’m most comfortable and I can take control.”
Jones had not fought since February 2020. He relinquished the light heavyweight belt in August 2020, prepping for a move up to heavyweight. Jones wanted time to move up the right way — and he got it. He packed on more than 25 pounds of muscle, weighing in at 248 pounds Friday after being a 205-pound fighter his whole career.
Jones had talked about moving up to heavyweight going back to 2012. He has never truly lost in the cage, with his lone defeat coming in a controversial disqualification in a bout that he was dominating.
The UFC heavyweight title was vacated by former champion Francis Ngannou, who left the UFC as a free agent earlier this year.
Jones’ win sets up a fight with Stipe Miocic, the most successful heavyweight fighter in UFC history and a former two-time champion.
“Y’all want to see me beat up Stipe?” Jones said in his Octagon interview. “One thing I know about the UFC is we give the fans what they want to see. Stipe Miocic, I hope you’re training, my guy. You’re the greatest heavyweight of all time. That’s what I want — I want you real bad.”
Jones (27-1, 1 NC) owns the UFC records for longest unbeaten streak (19), victories in title fights (15) and title defenses (11, tied with Demetrious Johnson). The New York native, who lives and trains in Albuquerque, New Mexico, last fought in February 2020, a win over Dominick Reyes in defense of the 205-pound title.
Jones, 35, was also the youngest fighter to win a UFC title (23 years old) back in 2011.
Gane (11-2), 32, was coming off a third-round knockout of Tai Tuivasa in September. The only other loss of his MMA career came in a unanimous decision defeat to Ngannou for the UFC heavyweight title in January 2022 at UFC 270.