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Jon Jones dismisses worrisome run-in with Bo Nickal before UFC 285: ‘It wasn’t a wrestling match!’

It’s surprising that a two-minute wrestling match with Bo Nickal has fight fans concerned about Jon Jones’ heavyweight debut later tonight (Sat., Mar. 4, 2023) at UFC 285 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, but that’s exactly what has happened in the leadup to this weekend’s festivities.

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Jones, who is making his first UFC appearance since 2020, and Nickal, who is making is anticipated Octagon debut at UFC 285, had a brief run-in earlier this week in Las Vegas. The two fighters were more than cordial before a short-lived, and very playful, wrestling match broke out. No takedowns were scored, but Nickal seemed to tire Jones just a little bit after their exchange.

That alone has fans wondering if Jones has lost some of his legendary cardio from his light heavyweight days. Remember, Jones is a super talented athlete but many of his wins consisted of him outworking opponents deep into fights. If he’s gassing out to Nickal behind closed doors what will he do Saturday night when he fights Ciryl Gane for the undisputed UFC heavyweight title?

While fans may be worried, Jones is downplaying his run-in with Nickal. In fact, “Bones” didn’t even count it as a wrestling match.

“It wasn’t a wrestling match,” Jones told reporters during UFC 285’s media day. “Bo is young and ambitious, and he’s looking for a reason to take me down, I’m sure. I’ll give him the opportunity if he wants it. But I’m an old man with a lot of tricks.

“We shook hands and we kind of got down in a wrestling stance, and I think he was thinking I was going to let his hand go and he went to to try to grab my leg and I held his hand and just kind of made him do a real awkward motion. We both looked at each other and I just (said), ‘I’ve got some tricks, now.’ I didn’t (go up to him and say I could take him down). I learned my lesson with (Daniel Cormier).”

It’s strange to see so many fans worried by this almost meaningless wrestling match, but I guess every little bit matters at this point. We haven’t seen Jones compete in over three years and we’ve never seen him fight at the heavyweight level. Maybe the greatest fighter of all time has in fact lost a step and maybe he will be in trouble against “Bon Gamin.”


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 5:30 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. For the updated and finalized UFC 285 fight card and PPV lineup click here.

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