UFC star throws fresh challenge to heavyweight champion Jon Jones - Hindustan Times

‘If the title will be in his hands, definitely yes’: UFC star throws fresh challenge to heavyweight champion Jon Jones

Mar 11, 2023 07:39 PM IST

Stepping in the Octagon for the first time in three years, Jon Jones produced a spectacle, claiming the heavyweight title by forcing Ciryl Gane to tap out in the first round itself.

It's been almost a week since Jon Jones made a sensational return to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), but the MMA world is, understandably, not over it yet. Stepping in the octagon for the first time in three years, Jones produced a spectacle as he tamed Ciryl Gane from the word go and forced him to tap in the first round to claim the heavyweight title, which was left vacant following the release of former champion Francis Ngannou.

Jon Jones celebrates after defeating Ciryl Gane during their UFC 285 heavyweight title bout(AFP)
Jon Jones celebrates after defeating Ciryl Gane during their UFC 285 heavyweight title bout(AFP)

The main event at UFC 285 kicked off with Jones being asked to remove a tape strapped on his toes as he was about to step in the Octagon, which he obliged. Unfazed with the momentarily pre-match distraction, Jones looked cool and the action got underway. However, seconds into the fight, the official brought the action to a halt, which TV replays confirmed was due to a low blow from Gane.

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Instructions were then passed to Gane, following which Jones immediately took control of the proceedings. All he required was a right hand jab, followed by another one, leading to a takedown and then came the unbreakable guillotine choke. It took Jones 2:04 minutes to rise to the top, a familiar place for the former UFC light-heavyweight champion, which also saw him hand Gane his first defeat via submission.

Ever since the stunning win, Jones has been marveled by almost everyone, which also include the former undisputed champion Ngannou, who was earlier scheduled to fight Jones on his return.

Almost a week later from the blockbuster event, Alexander Romanov, who also competes in the heavyweight division in UFC, in an exclusive interview talks about the Jones vs Gane showdown, and his personal ambitions against the current heavyweight champion. Romanov will also be headlining the co-main event at UFC Fight Night on Sunday, where he will face Alexander Volkov. Here are the excerpts…

What will be your main focus in your upcoming fight against Alexander Volkov and how do you plan to take him down?

My next fight will be with Alexander Volkov and I think he's a very tough opponent, but I have trained very hard. On my training camp I have focused on his powerful moments in his striking. He work very good with the legs. I have worked a lot on defense to tackle those kicks. Also, I have worked a lot of on my wrestling skills, grappling skills and I think that on the first round I can take him down and try to submit him.

Your opponent is almost five inches taller than you, which puts him in advantage in terms of striking. How do you plan to minimise this threat? Also do such advantages ever intimidate you?

He's a very tall but he is not so fast and I'll try to keep my gas on and take him down. My background is freestyle wrestling and I think for an opponent like Volkov, it becomes a very big plus for me. Because he's very tall, it becomes too easy to take him down with a single leg X or double leg X.

You have a great record with the only defeat coming in your previous fight that too via decision. So tell us about the hunger to get back to the win column?

For me it's very important to win this fight because this is a big opportunity to become top 10 in best division in the world. My aim is to join top 10 this year, but if it's really good on December I'll try to enter in top 5 on the heavyweight division. And next year I will try to have a title shot.

Being a heavyweight yourself, how did you react to Jon Jones' first round win over Ciryl Gane last week?

I had waited for this fight a long time because I know that Jon Jones is one of best GOAT in this business. And I think that this will be very good for all our division to work hard on training and to try to take his belt.

There were many who were anticipating Ciryl Gane to win the title. Did you have any favourites for the big fight?

I was confident Jon will win this fight because of his skills on the ground, the wrestling, on striking, which is much more better than Ciryl.

What are your ambitions against Jon Jones?

If the title will be in his hands. Definitely yes, why not!

Watch the LIVE coverage of UFC Fight Night – Yan vs Dvalishvili on Sony Sports Ten 2, Sony Sports Ten 3 (Hindi), and Sony Sports Ten 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels on 12th March 2023 at 4:30 am (IST)

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