During his year-long hiatus from the Octagon, Jon Jones sought out ways to improve himself both mentally and physically.
Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of his transformation occurred thanks to a dedicated weightlifting regimen. During the layoff, the former UFC light heavyweight champion often posted pictures and videos of his progress, including one which showed the extreme contrast between Jones’ previous “offseason” physique in 2013 and the new one forged through hours in the gym.
Jones has since slimmed down from his muscular peak in preparation for his Octagon return against Ovince St. Preux at UFC 197 on Saturday, but he says that he is still reaping the benefits from his powerlifting routine.
“I was 240 [pounds] at one point two months ago, lifting all types of crazy weight,” Jones said during a recent conference call. “Now I’m about 218. I feel great. I feel a lot like the athlete I was before; I think I punch harder and I’m a little more explosive.”
Jones will face St. Preux for the interim light heavyweight title at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. However, when Daniel Cormier withdrew from the bout, the Jackson-Wink MMA representative initially said he would be willing to face either a light heavyweight or a heavyweight on short notice. Jones has long hinted at a move to heavyweight, and now he might be more properly equipped to make that journey.
“Before I would be hesitant about shooting on heavyweights because I would think, ‘Oh man, if I don’t finish this shot he’s gonna front headlock me, and he’s gonna tire me out.’ I have the power to finish my shots on pretty much everyone,” Jones said. “I’m just a lot more confident. I’m more confident in my abilities to muscle certain things where before everything had to be about timing and finesse. I still have the timing and finesse, but now I have the strength to back things up.”
For now, Jones has his sights set on recapturing the light heavyweight title he lost when he was stripped of the belt and suspended indefinitely for fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run accident last year. Getting back down to the 205-pound limit after packing on muscle won’t be an issue, he said.
“I’ve had a nutritionist with me. For the last 10 weeks we’ve been together. I haven’t really had a cheat meal in a long time. I feel really good. Right now I’m definitely ahead of schedule,” he said.
And for those who speculate that Jones’ new program might adversely affect what he already did well in the cage, “Bones” calls that wishful thinking.
“I heard a lot of people say powerlifting is going to make Jon have a bad weight cut. I heard a lot of people say powerlifting is going to mess with Jon’s flexibility. I heard people say powerlifting is going to mess with my cardio,” he said. “Me knowing what the assumption was, I made it a point to really attack those things. Right now I’m ahead of the game in my weight cut. My cardio I believe is better than it’s ever been. My flexibility, I’m doing everything I was doing before.”