Many fans are excited about the long-awaited return of former light heavyweight king Jon Jones, who will fight for the first time in three years at UFC 285 – as a heavyweight. Jones’ heavyweight debut will be for the undisputed HW title, when he takes on Ciryl Gane following champion Francis Ngannou’s exit from the promotion.
There has been a lot of debate over whether Jones will be the same effective fighter with more weight on his frame. And ex-UFC fighter and current analyst Dan Hardy is among the people that are not sure this is is the best idea for Bones.
In a conversation with Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie, Hardy expanded on what he feels the issues might be (transcribed by Junkie):
“We don’t know how he’s going to perform with the bigger frame. Of course he’s got the height and reach for heavyweight – 84.5 inches. He could quite easily grow into heavyweight, but then would he be the same fighter he was at light heavyweight? The times that he struggled at light heavyweight is when he was taking on someone that had similar physical attributes. Remember the first Gustafsson fight, that was very problematic for him to begin with. Dominick Reyes was a pain for him at times, and I feel like Jon gives up a lot of his natural advantages that he had at light heavyweight when he moves to heavyweight.”
“Like Ciryl Gane’s 6-4, 79-inch reach or something like that, but it’s gonna be comparable to Jon Jones in ways that say a Daniel Cormier wasn’t back at light heavyweight,” Hardy said. “And the way Ciryl Gane moves is like light heavyweights did when Jon Jones was champion – the better ones. I think this is going to be a real challenge for him, and it’s difficult to kind of picture Jon Jones in a heavyweight frame. What does he move like? What techniques has he abandoned? Is he going to have anxiety associated with because now he feels like he fills up with lactate and his muscles start to burn?”
He continued on with the Gane comparisons, describing the former interim champ as a fighter that mirrors Jones’ light heavyweight game planning:
“We know how good Ciryl Gane is, and the reason why he’s so good is because he does a lot of things Jon Jones did so well at light heavyweight. I almost think it would have been easier for Jones to take on Ngannou, because at least you know what you’re getting. When he starts to move, you got to get out of the way. But Ciryl Gane never stops moving, so you can’t always stay out of the way, and we’ve seen Jon Jones kind of get outpointed a little bit at times by people that have got a good work rate and a long reach.”
UFC 285 goes down March 4th in T-Mobile Arena in Vegas.