Jon Jones had a statement to make in his rematch against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232.
Five years earlier, Gustafsson had pushed Jones further than any other opponent in history and nearly came away with a victory. Add to that, Jones had been out for over a year while trying to sort out a positive drug test that cost him a knockout victory against Daniel Cormier at UFC 214.
Between the controversy about the drug tests and Gustafsson’s near win over him, Jones had a lot of questions posed to him leading up to that fight that helped close the door on 2018.
It took Jones less than 15 minutes to give everybody the answers they wanted as he dismantled Gustafsson with surgical precision before finishing the fight by third round knockout. Jones reclaimed the light heavyweight title and silenced many of his most ardent critics thanks to an eye-opening performance.
As it turns out that single win wasn’t going to be nearly enough to satiate Jones’ thirst as he prepared for the New Year ahead. In fact, Jones was barely a week removed from his fight when he booked his next matchup against Anthony Smith at UFC 235 on March 2 in Las Vegas.
Jones has said he wants to fight and defend his title at least three times in 2019 and his striking coach Brandon Gibson says this is anything but lip service from arguably the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the sport.
“Jon was already in the gym this week, which was unheard of back in the day after a big win,” Gibson revealed when speaking to MMAWeekly. “Jon would take a sabbatical, he’d be on a beach thinking of anything but fighting. For him to be not only talking to the team after a big win, already trying to strategize for the next fight but he’s already in the gym.
“I’m actually going to go work out with him in a few hours. Jon owes it to himself, he owes it to his family, he owes it to the fans, to the UFC, to the team, to keep this momentum going.”
Working with the coaching staff at the Jackson-Winkeljohn Academy in New Mexico, Jones has a team that is dedicated to only wanting the best for him.
That’s why no one has ever rushed Jones into a fight unless he was truly ready.
Gibson is one of the many voices on that coaching staff offering advice but he says Jones is more than capable of fighting three times this year because he’s seeing a whole new level of motivation from the longest reigning light heavyweight champion in UFC history.
“We’re never going to rush anything that we’re not prepared for and I think it’s been clear from our history in the past that we don’t mind hitting the brakes on something that we don’t feel matches our timeline,” Gibson explained. “But I really do believe Jon is going to fight three times this year and we’re going to have some tough challenges. Some young guys with nothing to lose. It’s going to be our job to go make a statement with every single one of those performances.
“I think the year leading up to when he won the title or the year he broke into the UFC, he had a lot of lot of quick turn around performances. I told Jon, sometimes by default you get a year and a half long camp but you know you can perform on a short turn around just as well, especially coming off the Gustafsson fight where there was no injuries. Let’s just keep this momentum going.”
Jones wasn’t alone in his desire to build off the Gustafsson win by staying busy in 2019.
Gibson says the entire coaching staff was bursting with excitement to get back into the gym to begin preparing Jones for the next battle ahead.
Throughout the course of his career, Jones can count on one hand the number of rounds he’s lost, which speaks to the level of dominance he’s showcased over the years.
According to Gibson, Jones is still peeking in the prime of his career right now and that should absolutely frighten anybody about to step into his path in 2019.
“Everybody’s hungry to get right back to work,” Gibson said. “Nobody wants to sit back and revel in the victory. We want to get right back to work because I agree if Jon really chooses to set this schedule as he’s envisioned, he’s going to separate himself from everybody else on this GOAT (greatest of all time) discussion if he chooses to.”
“I hope it brings fear to all these contenders who want to come get some.”
Jon Jones Talks UFC 232 Win, Time Off from MMA, and His Future
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