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Jon Jones explains move to heavyweight: ‘I wanted to have fear again’

UFC 247 Jones v Reyes Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Jon Jones is set to show off a new version of himself at UFC 285 on March 4, 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The vacant Heavyweight title will be on the line when Jones makes his long-awaited return against Ciryl Gane. It will be Jones’ debut in the division and his first fight since Feb. 2020 when he defeated Dominick Reyes via a closely-contested unanimous decision.

Jones’ final three Light Heavyweight performances were considered lackluster by the majority of the community, and for the former two-time titleholder, it may have just boiled down to a lack of motivation.

LIVE! Watch UFC 295 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

TWO TITLES UP FOR GRABS! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) makes its highly anticipated return to Madison Square Garden in New York City on Sat., Nov. 11, 2023, with a re-worked pay-per-view (PPV) main card. In the ESPN+-streamed main event, former 205-pound roost-ruler, Jiri Prochazka, will lock horns with ex-Middleweight kingpin, Alex Pereira, for the promotion’s vacant Light Heavyweight title. In UFC 295’s co-main event, top-ranked Heavyweight contenders, Sergei Pavlovich (No. 2) and Tom Aspinall (No. 4), will collide for the interim strap after division champion, Jon Jones, was injured with a torn pectoral muscle and forced to withdraw (video).

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

“I stopped studying footage as much, I started just looking forward to another day at the office,” Jones told Unlocking the Cage (h/t MMA News). “The fear was gone, I didn’t really fear these guys. I wasn’t happy with my pay, either. I was starting to fight guys like Reyes who had been dreaming of fighting me since college and he was just relatively unknown to the general public. So, I just wanted more. I wanted to be nervous again. I wanted to have fear again. I think fear is healthy and now we’re in this position. The Heavyweight division has never been scarier, and I’m happy to be right in the middle of it.”

Jones, 35, was slated to have the most dangerous match up possible upon his initial arrival at Heavyweight. Unfortunately, the now-former champion, Francis Ngannou, has parted ways with the promotion after a contract dispute, leaving an eventual Jones clash all too unlikely.

For Gane (11-1), his lone career loss came opposite Ngannou in Jan. 2022 via unanimous decision (watch highlights). The French superstar has since rebounded with a brilliant showing against Australia’s Tai Tuivasa at UFC’s first France event in Sept. 2022, finishing “Bam Bam” with strikes in round three (watch highlights).

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 285 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 285: “Jones vs. Gane” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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