If it’s possible to become bored of being a UFC champion, Jon Jones reached that point in 2020.
Including his first title win over Mauricio Rua in March 2011, Jones’ past 15 fights have been for either the undisputed or interim light heavyweight championship – all wins, with one no contest, over the best the division has had to offer.
A feeling of dissatisfaction was a big reason why Jones, a two-time UFC 205-pound champion, vacated the title back in August in favor of a long-awaited move to heavyweight. Could he have held onto the belt and tried to become another one of the promotion’s champ-champs? Probably, if he wanted to. But Jones also wanted to do right by the division given his new direction.
“The reason why I decided to vacate the light heavyweight belt and not hang onto it is that I knew my move to heavyweight was going to take a really long time,” Jones said in an interview with Bleacher Report. “I didn’t want to be one of those athletes to slow down the division. I feel like I’ve held onto the light heavyweight championship for so long, I’ve ruined so many people’s dreams of being the light heavyweight champion, and now it’s time for someone else to have it. …
“I thought it was the right thing to do for everyone else. I could have done the selfish thing and held onto it and come up with a bunch of excuses and lied to the fans and said I was going to come back down to light heavyweight and made all these guys wait. I didn’t want to do that. I have no intentions of ever going back to light heavyweight.”
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And with that mentality, Jones has turned his attention squarely on winning the UFC heavyweight title as he’s spent the past several months bulking up and building his frame. When Jones will get the opportunity to fight for the title is up in the air, but it’s a good sign that he and UFC president Dana White recently had a good conversation about his future.
As things stand, reigning heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic is expected to meet Francis Ngannou in a rematch of a 2018 title fight won by Miocic. Ngannou lost his next fight to Derrick Lewis but has since righted the ship in a big way with a four-fight winning streak that features all first-round knockouts to earn his second crack at Miocic.
White has said Jones could get a title shot in his heavyweight debut. With Miocic vs. Ngannou 2 expected to happen in the first quarter of 2021, that means Jones’ shot would likely come against either man.
Beating Miocic or Ngannou would renew Jones’ excitement about holding UFC gold once again.
“It’ll feel amazing,” Jones said. “Somewhere along the line, getting that light heavyweight championship wrapped around my waist, the excitement and other emotions it should have evoked, kind of went away. It was just another day at the office. It was what we always do. But I haven’t won that heavyweight championship yet.
“To do that for my family, and do that for my team, and all the people that have invested in me over the years, it’ll be something new for all of us.”