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Ciryl Gane unsure why Jon Jones had harder recent run of fights: ‘Maybe he’s not in his prime’

Jon Jones will answer a lot of questions this weekend (Sat., March 4, 2023) at UFC 285.

The vacant Heavyweight title is up for grabs in the UFC 285 main event when Jones makes his divisional debut opposite France’s Ciryl Gane. It’s been over a decade since “Bones” first mentioned the concept of competing in the largest weight class in mixed martial arts (MMA). After relinquishing his Light Heavyweight crown in early 2020, he’s now ready to make it all a reality.

Jones’ end to his Light Heavyweight run wasn’t his strongest in terms of performance. That plus him now being 35 has given plenty of fans and pundits alike reason to worry about how he’ll do against the perennial top contender and former interim champion, Gane. For Gane, he isn’t too sure what to make of where Jones was at when taking his three-year hiatus.

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CHAMPIONSHIP TRILOGY! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to The O2 in London England, on Sat., March 18, 2023, with newly-minted Welterweight kingpin, Leon Edwards, running it back with former 170-pound champion, Kamaru Usman, for a third (and likely final) time. In UFC 286’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, all-action Lightweight knockout artists, Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev, will lock horns with the winner inching closer to a future Lightweight title shot.

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“First, I really don’t want to disrespect these opponents,” Gane told CBS Sports’ Shakiel Mahjouri. “I’m talking about [Alexander] Gustafsson, [Dominick] Reyes, Anthony Smith, and Thiago Santos. These are beautiful fighters, so it’s really normal that it was not easy for Jon Jones. I don’t need to talk about that. He did well.

“A lot of people talk about, ‘He’s not the same Jon Jones as before,’” he continued. “But guys, the division is really hard. Maybe harder than before. These guys are so strong, so tough. Maybe he’s not in his prime, maybe, but he was in really tough fights and he did really well. So I don’t want to disrespect his opponents.”

Despite all the unknowns currently surrounding Jones and what kind of fighter can be expected, oddsmakers still have the all-time great as a betting favorite to win. Much has also been made about Gane’s wrestling struggles in his lone career loss to Francis Ngannou in Jan. 2022 (watch highlights). When it comes to Jones being overestimated or Gane being underestimated, “Bon Gamin” feels the assessments have been fairly balanced.

“Both. I don’t know exactly because I’m not on social media too much. But I can feel that when I walk in the streets in Vegas yesterday,” Gane said. “The people are saying, ‘Come on, Ciryl. I’m with you. Go get him!’ I don’t know exactly the numbers if it’s 50-50 or not. I don’t know. My prediction is most people are probably behind Jon Jones because of his career. It makes sense. Nobody has gotten him down. This makes sense. But I have a lot of people behind me. I can feel it.”

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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