After an absence of more than three years, it took Jon Jones just over two minutes to steam-roll past Cyril Gane, submitting the Frenchman at UFC 285 to re-ignite the debate about who is the UFC “GOAT” – the greatest of all time.
The 35-year-old American joined a select group of fighters who have won world titles in two weight classes in MMA’s biggest promotion, and all that prevents him from claiming the title of the greatest ever combat sports athlete are doping violations and incidents outside the cage which have dogged his career
“I’ve been working for this for a long time,” Jones said. “A lot of people thought I wouldn’t even be coming back. I’ve been faithful to my goal. I’ve been faithful to the mission.”
Jones looked imperious as he slipped a left hand from Gane and took him down, trapping him against the cage before adding his new-found bulk at heavyweight to reinforce a guillotine choke and claim the vacant heavyweight title.
After winning the light heavyweight belt on numerous occasions only to be stripped of it for disciplinary reasons, Jones has now won all 15 title fights he has competed in, and on Saturday in Las Vegas he looked like he was back to his old and dominant self.
“I had a strong conviction if I were to get him down to the ground, the fight would be in my area. I’ve been wrestling since I was 12 years old and I feel stronger and more comfortable, especially on the ground than ever,” Jones said.
The three-year layoff left him feeling a little rusty, but it wasn’t enough to give Gane any chance whatsoever.
“I actually felt a little goofy on the feet, it’s been a while. But once I got my hands on him, I knew that’s where I’m most comfortable and I could take control,” Jones explained.
What happens next will depend on his ability to keep himself on the right track. Jones has often followed up moments of triumph with acts of self-sabotage, but for now he has his sights set on former champion Stipe Miocic and cementing his legacy.
“Stipe Miocic, I hope you’re training my guy,” Jones said in the octagon, with Miocic sitting in the audience.
“You’re the greatest heavyweight of all time and that’s what I want. I want you real bad.”