In his early UFC career, wrestling was a key foundation for Jon Jones’ success.
If the action ever got to be too much on the feet — though it rarely did — Jones, a junior college national champion at Iowa Central Community College, could always resort to taking his opponent down and battering them with elbows. In more recent years, Jones’ wrestling hasn’t been as much of a factor as he’s relied more frequently on his length and kickboxing to carry him to victory.
That could change as the Jackson-Wink MMA standout prepares to move to heavyweight in 2021. Jones, for one, expects to be much more powerful with his takedowns with added weight and strength in his lower half.
"When I was 205, I always had a hard time getting down low," Jones told ESPN. "Or hated getting low, with [single-leg takedowns] and stuff like that. Almost as if my knees were killing me to do it.
"Now that I've been working on my legs so much and they've gotten thicker ... I think that's going to translate into me shooting high-crotches and shooting double-legs. I think it'll make those muscles a lot faster. I predict that my shooting ability and my wrestling is going to just be faster. There's just more power, and my ass has gotten a lot bigger. I think my double-legs are going to be one of the biggest differences in my game that people are going to notice."
Jones revealed that he is currently 240 pounds with a target weight of 245 for first heavyweight training camp. For now, the opponent for that initial foray into the big man’s division is unknown. “Bones” could face the winner of the title bout between Stipe Mioic and Francis Ngannou, which is targeted for March, or he could lock horns with another Top 10 adversary.
"I go back and forth," Jones said. "Sometimes I think I should take like a top-10 guy [at heavyweight] and just get my feet wet, figure out what's happening. And then the other times, I think, 'F---k it. Let's just go big or go home.' I'm trying to get these big-money fights these days. I like taking care of everybody around me.”
Regardless of what the future holds, Jones believes he has made the right choice with the move up a division after dominating light heavyweight for years.
"The light heavyweight division was fun, but I just wasn't scared of those guys anymore," Jones said. "Like, none of them. And I think it showed in some of my performances. Obviously, I still trained hard. But there was no urgency in some of my last fights.
"With these next guys I'm going to be going up against, I respect these guys. These guys are intimidating -- they're intimidating as s---t. It just gets me up in a whole different way.”
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