Jon Jones ‘absolutely’ will have wrestling as Plan A vs. Ciryl Gane at UFC 285, coach Fernand Lopez says
Fernand Lopez expects Jon Jones to quickly resort to grappling against Ciryl Gane.
Jones (26-1 MMA, 20-1 UFC) meets Gane (11-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) for the vacant heavyweight championship in the UFC 285 headliner on March 4 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Gane’s head coach, Lopez, respects Jones’ striking ability but doesn’t think he can stand with his star student.
“Absolutely,” Lopez told MMA Junkie of Jones wrestling. “I think that no matter what Jon Jones or his team will say, they have a Plan A as wrestling. No matter what they do in the first round, they will try the wrestling as soon as this thing starts. I’m not saying that Jon Jones will not catch Ciryl there and here, time to time. I believe he’s very good at striking, I believe he can touch anyone. But let’s be serious: Ciryl is something on the feet.
“Whenever you start to fight with him, you will find out very clearly that there’s something that pushes you back. You will find out very quick that this guy is different, is another level of striking. The way he moves, the body language will put you in a situation you can’t face, and you have to shoot the double leg and shoot for the body lock. So, I know we will face the very good wrestling of Jon Jones.”
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Gane was taken down four times by Francis Ngannou in their title-unification bout at UFC 270, marking his only career loss. With Jones bulking up to a bigger frame, many – including Lopez – are expecting him to wrestle against Gane.
But Lopez, who was Ngannou’s longtime trainer in the past, says Ngannou’s ability to constantly take Gane down was not just technique but his incredible strength.
“I think people underestimate a lot the level of power that Francis Ngannou can posses,” Lopez said. “People don’t understand that this guy, he happens to cut weight to be a heavyweight. When he fought against Stipe (Miocic), he did cut weight. He cut three kilos. He’s full of muscle, he’s strong, he’s agile, he’s powerful. And at the same time, he has basic and fundamental wrestling. He knows how to wrestle. I wasn’t surprised at all.”
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