One former Jon Jones training partner believes “Bones” will continue his extended run of success when he moves to the heavyweight division.
In an interview with TMZ Sports, former Jackson-Wink MMA teammate Rashad Evans discussed Jones’ potential at heavyweight. After Evans spit from the Albuquerque, N.M.-based camp, he faced Jones for the 205-pound title at UFC 145, losing a five-round verdict on April 21, 2012. While there was once bad blood between the two rivals, Evans still has plenty of respect for Jones.
“Jon moving up, it’s going to be a continuation of the legacy of Jon Jones,” Evans said. “Jon Jones is a phenomenal athlete. He’s a phenomenal fighter and his IQ inside the Octagon, it can’t be surpassed by anybody. So I expect him to carry that to the heavyweight division.
“The things that I think may give him some problems is the fact that these guys are big and they do hit harder. But for the most part, this is a great Jon Jones. Jon Jones can make an adjustment to anything.”
Jones has been sidelined since his last light heavyweight title defense, a five-round verdict over Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 in February 2020. His negotiations with the promotion for a move to heavyweight have been contentious, and thus far little progress has been made. Before talks stalled, a blockbuster showdown with reigning heavyweight king Francis Ngannou was the target. In the meantime, the UFC has booked an interim heavyweight title tilt between Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane.
Evans sees the Jones vs. Ngannou matchup as an intriguing fight, with “The Predator” as an opponent who can potential offset what “Bones” does well.
“The fight with Francis, that is one that is a very intriguing fight because he’s going against a guy that takes away some of the advantages that he’s been able to enjoy for so long – being able to have a long reach, being able to be the stronger fighter and all those different aspects that he’s been able to bring to the table,” Evans said. “So it’s going to be interesting to see if he’s going to be able to bring that to the heavyweight division. But at the same time, it’s hard to say that he won’t because this is Jon Jones.
“I went back and forth a few times just because the fact that Ngannou is growing at an exponential rate,” he continued. “His mindset has been absolutely amazing when it comes to just growing and rounding out the part of his game that wasn’t so good before, which is the grappling, and even understanding how to control his power and not trying to throw a hard punch every single time he lets his hands go. This Francis has grown a lot, so it’s still so hard to say. And here’s another thing: He wants to fight Jon Jones. He’s not hoping it doesn’t happen – he wants to fight Jon Jones. He’s seeking that fight out, so that’s a man who’s a very confident man.”
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