Jones has been out of action for over two years and a half since his last outing against Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 in Feb. 2021. The former light heavyweight champion managed to come out on top of a close-fought war that many believed could have gone either way. Following the razor-thin win, Jones announced that he would be leaving the 205-pound division, which he ruled for nearly a decade, in preparations for a move up to heavyweight.
While he awaits taking to the octagon again, coach Brandon Gibson of Jackson Wink MMA talked about Jones’ highly-anticipated return to fighting.
“I think there’s a lot of areas that Jon could exploit at heavyweight,” Gibson said via MMA Junkie. “He has such a wide arsenal of techniques. He’s so dangerous, but you’re right. There’s a lot of heavyweights that are great boxers, that are great in the clinch, but Jon’s wrestling is on another level.
“His ground-and-pound is on another level. His jiu-jitsu is on another level, and then just the full spectrum of his striking arsenal, I think is on another level. So Jon’s gonna bring a lot to the table at heavyweight that I don’t think we’ve ever seen another heavyweight bring.”
Gibson Can’t Wait for Jones’ Return
‘Bones’ had previously hinted that he was ready and waiting on an opponent. Although Jones got linked to a potential heavyweight debut against the current division champion Francis Ngannou and former king Stipe Miocic, no concrete developments have yet followed.
Coach Gibson is confident that Jones has completely transformed himself into a heavyweight fighter and adjusted his physique to get used to the extra weight.
“We’re just staying ready,” Gibson said. “It’s been a long process and I feel very confident with the work he’s done to rebuild his body into heavyweight, and the work we’ve been doing almost the last, coming up on, three years I’m very proud of. Jon has put in the work. There are no shortcuts in this game and he’s really continuing to develop all elements of his game, and whether it’s December or whether it’s another date, whether it’s Stipe or Francis or another opponent, we’re just focused on Jon and his growth.”
Gibson continued, “I see Jon happy, I see Jon focused, and I see him very motivated on capturing this goal that he’s set for himself so I’m happy. I can’t wait to make that walk with him, it’s gonna be special.”
Gibson Likened Jones to Georges St-Pierre
Gibson explained the evolution in Jones’ physique and likened his move up to that of mixed martial arts legend Georges St-Pierre, a former UFC welterweight champion who returned after a four-year hiatus to win the middleweight championship against Michael Bisping at UFC 217 in Nov. 2017.
“It’s been this mountain climb. There’s been some peaks and valleys but finding the best spot for his strength to match his cardio, to match his martial arts techniques and movements, we’ve really been able to hone it in,” he added. “Now when it’s time to sign a contract and the camp begins, he’s going to be ready. He’s going to be very well prepared.
“It reminds me in some ways of Georges St-Pierre’s move up to middleweight. He didn’t do that right away. He really changed his body, kept his technique sharp, and went out there and won the middleweight championship. I think Jon’s going to be very similar. Whatever weight he ends up coming in at, he’s going to be firing on all cylinders.”