In a snippet of his 1-on-1 interview with Yahoo Sports MMA insider Kevin Iole, the UFC legend spoke about his decision to jump to the heavyweight ranks — as he takes on Ciryl Gane this Saturday for the vacant heavyweight title.
KEVIN IOIE: I remember many years ago, I think it was '08 or '09, when-- when you and I met at the food court at the mall and we had a long conversation and we talked. And-- and I think toward the end of that conversation I asked you. You're a big dude with a big wingspan. Do you think you ever fight heavyweight? And you looked at me like I was crazy. Now, you're going to heavyweight to fight for the vacant title, meaning Ciryl Gane in T-Mobile Arena. What would it mean to you, John, to win the championship and become the heavyweight champion after all you've been through?
JOHN JONES: Oh, man, it was just-- it's been a long journey, a lot of fights, a lot of years, man. It would be awesome. This is a dream come true. A dream come true. I've been talking about it for a long time, and took a lot of courage building to-- to make that leap and to get on that journey, that weight gain journey, and the confidence building journey that it takes to fight some of these gigantic gladiators. We're here. We're here now. And I feel very resilient, Kevin. I-- I feel like like-- like-- that I'm a hard man to break. And--
KEVIN IOIE: And healthy.
JOHN JONES: Yeah. I just feel stronger than ever, Kev. And I'm just grateful. I'm grateful to be here.
KEVIN IOIE: You know, It's interesting, I wonder. I asked Gane's coach yesterday, Fernand Lopez. I said is it fair to say that the heavyweights are not as athletic as the light heavyweights, and that the light heavyweights are going to be more athletic and able to move more and the heavyweight bigger and stronger? And he said five years ago, that would have been true. But maybe not so true now, that now the heavyweights are just as big and just as athletic, or bigger. And still as athletic as the light heavyweights. Now, do you buy that? Like, Ciryl Gane athleticism may pose a problem for you?
JOHN JONES: I think Ciryl is a very athletic guy. I think he stands out in a weight class where a lot of these guys don't even like to go for jogs. What I'm used to is-- is guys that are lean, ripped, explosive, quick. Guys that have a gas tank from round 1 to round 5. And I don't-- I don't think there's many guys like that in the heavyweight division, including Ciryl Gane.
Cyril-- yes. I mean-- and his last fight with Francis, you know, Francis could barely move his feet at the end-- at the end of the fight. And Cyril was looking just as slow as he was, you know. My-- one of my goals is to let the fans see immediately that, wow, John really may be in a class of his own right now. There-- there is no one like John. There is no one like John in the UFC. That's what I plan on showing.
I feel, just as athletic, I have the standards. In my mind, are the same that they used to be. I'm-- I'm expecting just Alexander Gustafsson type war, you know what I mean? Like-- like, that's-- that's the stuff that I'm used to, that Thiago Santos type war where we just, you know, going back and forth. These heavyweights, they don't really have that pace in them. And so I think-- I think the fans are impressed by Gane because they haven't seen me yet.