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Israel Adesanya still targeting Jones fight despite move to heavyweight: ‘It’s still part of my plan’

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UFC 248: Adesanya v Romero Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Reigning UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is still targeting a superfight with former 205-pound king, Jon Jones, even though “Bones” just took his talents to the heavyweight division.

Adesanya, who will defend his 185-pound title against rival Paulo Costa at UFC 253 later this month, has been talking about a matchup with Jones for quite some time. After knocking out Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 last October to unify the middleweight championship things really started to heat up between “Last Stylebender” and “Bones.” The two seemed to be closing in on a potential superfight until Adesanya pulled back and put the matchup on ice until at least 2021.

Now that Jones has left the light heavyweight division beyond and currently sits two divisions above Adesanya it’s becoming increasingly difficult to imagine a scenario in which the superfight actually happens. Jones has been delaying a move to heavyweight for years and doesn’t seem to have plans to return to 205 pounds anytime soon.

That said, Adesanya is still holding out hope that one day he can test his fighting abilities against Jones inside of the cage. The UFC middleweight champion obviously has a tough task at hand in his grudge match with Costa on “Fight Island,” but a fight against Jones is still something the undefeated champion wants to cross off his bucket list.

“I still have that in mind, it’s still part of my plan,” Adesanya told reporters earlier this week during UFC 253’s virtual media day. “But let me ask you this, how many years has Jon Jones been in the UFC? And he only just moved up in weight, right?

“So why would he or anyone else expect me to move up in weight when I just got the belt rather than defend my belt like he has and create a legacy before jumping up in weight? So I’m sticking to my plan. I’m never going to let anyone make me fold or make me make a move ahead of schedule. I’m sticking to my plan.”

For now, Adesanya will need to defend his title against Costa later this month. It’s one of the biggest matchups of 2020 and a fight that should test Adesanya’s toughness like never before. Even after defeating the likes of Robert Whittaker, Yoel Romero, Kelvin Gastelum and Anderson Silva during his UFC tenure, Adesanya has never fought someone as dangerous as “Borrachinha.”

“He’s not one of the best,” Adesanya said. “I’ve faced way better strikers. In the UFC, he’s definitely not the best striker. I think (Anderson) Silva is a better striker than him, (Robert) Whittaker is a different striker than him but can be better. So he’s not the best striker I’ve fought, but he’s dangerous. But you have to remember, so am I.”

UFC 253 will take place on Sept. 26 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside Flash Forum on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, with Adesanya vs. Costa serving as the main event.

For more UFC 253 fight card news click here.