This weekend at UFC 285, Jon Jones will make his three-year comeback as he takes on Ciryl Gane in his heavyweight debut. Chael Sonnen, a former contender for the UFC middleweight and light heavyweight titles, publicly criticised the heavyweight title match and the status of the division.
On The MMA Hour, Sonnen discussed how Francis Ngannou’s departure from the UFC left the heavyweight class in a precarious situation:
“I’m not sure if there has ever been a heavyweight [title] bout that was less worthy. We were afflicted with a heavyweight who didn’t even want to be here. Francis Ngannou wants to immigrate to another country to become a boxer, but we have him. We must sit with him after he won the belt.”
Sonnen continued by criticising the division’s lack of depth and the title battle between Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane:
“Today, we have a contest between a man who has won his past two matches and a man who has never played in the division and gave up the sport three [years] ago. There aren’t many options at this point in the heavyweight division. The oldest No. 1 contender in the UFC used to be the youngest UFC champion. It is simply the case.”
As “The Predator” was released from his UFC contract, a historic bout between Jon Jones and Francis Ngannou was called off. Jones wants to win the second division and further establish himself as a great while Ngannou is aiming for free agency.
Jon Jones opens up on delaying heavyweight debut
Throughout quite some time, Jon Jones has been teasing his heavyweight debut. The wait will end this Saturday, over a decade after Jones first broached the subject of switching to heavyweight.
Jones decided to give up the championship after his final 205-pound title defence against Dominick Reyes in 2020 and spent the following three years packing on muscle in anticipation for his move up to heavyweight.
This Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, “Bones” will compete against Ciryl Gane for the vacant heavyweight title. The long-time light heavyweight champion explained to ESPN MMA why it took him so long to move up, stressing that it wasn’t because of money:
“My decision to delay my heavyweight debut wasn’t motivated by money, displeasure with the UFC, or anything else of the sort. I simply wanted to give it my all when I did return. A year ago, I thought I was prepared to go forward. We had to determine our opponents, and the UFC simply had a lot of moving factors, but we are now. We acquired Ciryl Gane, and I feel like right now everything is just falling into place for me.”