LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jon Jones finished a three-year sabbatical from the UFC, moved up a top weight class, and then left no doubt Saturday night about his place in the sport’s history.
Already widely considered the greatest UFC fighter, the 35-year-old Jones took Cyril Jean to the mat just over a minute into the first round and won by guillotine choke at 2:04 at UFC 285.
“I’m so excited,” Jones said. “I’ve been working towards this for a long time. People thought I wasn’t going back. I was true to my purpose, true to my mission.”
As short as the fight was, Jones made sure to take his time getting into the octagon, playing up to the sold-out crowd of 19,471. UFC President Dana White said the gate was $12.5 million, the highest for a heavyweight bout and fourth highest ever.
This was Jones’ first fight in three years and his first in the heavyweight division. The former former lightweight champion said it was important to establish in his mind that he deserved this honor as the greatest of all time.
With another goat, Tom Brady, sitting nearby, Jones did just that. Brady flew in on fight day from Florida and spent time with Jones’ brother, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones.
“(Jones) is a natural freak, and he’s the absolute best,” White said.
There were questions about whether too much time would affect Jones’ effectiveness, and he spent some time at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to prepare for the night. His last fight was on February 8, 2020, with a unanimous decision over Dominic Reyes.
Jones’ appearance has never been the same as before he took time off, and he admitted the extra weight had put on his muscle tone. All the while, though, Jones insisted that looks are deceiving.
back his words.
“Cyril Jean is a monster,” White said. “Jon Jones showed up and treated him like a kid.”
Jones thought the time it took to prepare for the night would show the weight gain was worth it. Hire a team in Albuquerque to get it in shape.
“I had to show up and drop (Jane) on the floor,” Jones said. “I’ve been wrestling since I was 12. I feel stronger than ever. Once I get it in my hands, I know I can take over.”
The win extended Jones’ undefeated record to 19 in a row, and improved to 27-1 with a no-contest. He won a record 14 light heavyweight titles.
Jones said he next wants Stipe Miocic, the number two contender who Jones has described as the greatest heavyweight of all time. White said the fight would happen, but he didn’t know when it would happen.
The top-ranked heavyweight contender was French Jean, 32. fell to 11-2.
“It hurts so much,” Jin said. “This is a win lose. This is my past now, and most of all is what I see in the future. I’m going straight back to the gym.”
In the women’s co-main event, sixth seed Alexa Grasso of Mexico (16-3) submitted champion Valentina Shevchenko (23-4) of Kyrgyzstan with a time of 4:34 minutes into the fourth round to win the belt. Grasso became the third Mexican champion.
“I feel like this is a dream,” Grasso said. “I dreamed of this moment.”
Shevchenko, 34, had won her previous eight bouts with the title and was controlling this round through three rounds by dictating the action and repeatedly taking grasso to the floor.
But Grasso brought Shevchenko onto the court late in Game 4 when the former champion hit a backhand kick. Then Grasso, 29, put Shevchenko in a position where she was forced out.
Shevchenko said she wanted a rematch, but White wasn’t sure that would happen.
Middleweight Bo Nickall, 27, won his UFC debut, delivering Jimmy Pickett, 34 from an arm triangle at 2:54 of the first round. Nickall won three NCAA wrestling championships at Penn State. go 4-0 overall; Beckett is 13-9.
Scenes for the remake of the 1989 movie “Road House” were filmed in between action in the octagon with actor Jake Gyllenhaal portraying an MMA fighter.
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