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Coaches: Jon Jones’ ‘fight IQ’ will be the difference maker at heavyweight

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“Jon’s skill level is so high, his fight IQ is so high, that I don’t think somebody having a 20-pound advantage over Jon is going to make that much of a difference.”

MMA: UFC-New Mexico Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Jones’ fight IQ alone makes him a nightmare matchup for just about everybody in the UFC heavyweight division, according to ‘Bone’s’ coaches Brandon Gibson and Mike Winkeljohn.

Jones recently vacated his UFC light heavyweight title and is expected to move up to heavyweight next year and, when he does, the 33-year-old will be just as dominant at heavyweight as he was at light heavyweight.

The difference maker will be his high fight IQ, say Gibson and Winkeljohn.

“Heavyweight’s a different animal, but Jon’s spent a lot of his career training with some of the best heavyweights in the world,” Jones’ coach Brandon Gibson told MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin in a recent interview. “I’ve seen Jon do hundreds of rounds with guys like [Alistair] Overeem and [Andrei] Arlovski and Travis Browne. We’ve had a plethora of great heavyweights come through Jackson’s, and Jon has been Jon Jones with all of them.

“Jon’s skill level is so high, his fight IQ is so high, that I don’t think somebody having a 20-pound advantage over Jon is going to make that much of a difference. He’s just such a skilled martial artist. I think the weight class intrigues Jon.”

“Jon has always done very well [against heavyweights],” Winkeljohn added. “He’s always had the ability to change up things and as far as fight IQ, Jon’s that guy. If he’s fighting a guy like Andrei Arlovski with a big overhand, he knows how to nullify it. If he’s fighting a guy like Alistair Overeem, who throws a big hook into a knee to the body, he knows how to avoid that.

“He’s very good at reading a fighter and knowing what the fighter’s going to do, sometimes before the fighter even knows himself. He’s wiped out a division, so it makes sense [to go to heavyweight]. I put money on Jon going to heavyweight and dominating there, too.”

Jones’ first fight at heavyweight hasn’t been booked but the pound-for-pound No. 2 is expected to fight for the title in his HW debut. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reports that the UFC would like Jones to face the winner of Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou, who are slated for a rematch in the new year.