Return of the Prodigal Son: Jon Jones is back in UFC


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James DePuy

Most MMA fans consider Jon Jones to be the greatest fighter of all time. Jones is set to make his return in an unfamiliar heavyweight division when he faces French phenom Ciryl Gane at the T-Mobile Arena on March 4, and the MMA world is excited to see Jones return.

Jon Jones has the natural talent and ability that far exceeds anyone else in this sport. He once admitted he would party and get inebriated a week before every fight and still manage to win his matches. He was able to take down legends of the sport like Maurício Rua, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans and Daniel Cormier, as well as clear out the entire light heavyweight division during his title reign.

Jones also has been busted for using performance-enhancing drugs, such as before his fight with Daniel Cormier at UFC 214, which calls into question his achievements in the light heavyweight division. Jones handily defeated Cormier in their first fight at UFC 182, and Cormier seemingly never had an answer for Jones. In Jones’ four fights after he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, he beat Alexander Gustafsson, Anthony Smith, Dominick Reyes and Thiago Santos.

Jones’ legal troubles outside the cage and transition to the heavyweight division have delayed his return and muddled negotiations between Francis Ngannou and the UFC, which would have set up a potential super fight between Jones and Ngannou.

This fight may be seen by some as panic matchmaking by Dana White, who insinuated that Ngannou was scared of Jones after negotiations fell through. But Jones and Ngannou have trained together in the past, and this was quickly dismissed as another example of White throwing fighters who do not comply with his demands under the bus.

Jones faces a tough challenge because Gane is a heavyweight phenom who has only one loss, which was to Ngannou, and is coming off an impressive knockout of Tai Tuivasa. This may be Jones’ toughest challenge yet, as Gane is 6 feet, 4 inches tall, making him one of the few fighters in the UFC who can match Jones’ height. His wingspan and kickboxing ability may give Jones problems in striking.

But Gane has had problems on the ground, as he was neutralized in his loss by Ngannou, who has a poor ground game and panic-wrestled Gane in their bout, managing to cruise to a decision win. Jones has a much better ground game than Ngannou. Jones’ smaller frame, however, may make his wrestling less effective when compared to Ngannou.

There are a lot of uncertainties surrounding Jones’ next fight. But the world will be watching to see whether Jones becomes the fifth double champion in UFC history.