For the last year and a half, former perennial champion Jon Jones has been preparing for his awaited heavyweight run. Apart from a few training videos here and there and photos of his now bulked-up frame, there isn’t much insider information on “Bones’” current preparations.
But one of his training partners, UFC veteran Yorgan de Castro, recently spoke on MMA Fighting’s Portuguese podcast Trocação Franca to give a bit of a peek at how sparring sessions are with a heavyweight Jon Jones.
“He’s been waiting two years for this. He’s walking around at 255 pounds but is so strong. And cardio will be the key. He has so much cardio. He hits pads for two hours and doesn’t slow down,” de Castro said of Jones.
“You’re never comfortable with him in sparring. If you start to get comfortable with the hands, he wrestles you. If you want to get up, he throws elbows and knees. Not many people can do that at heavyweight. Everybody has heavy hands, but not many people can combine wrestling and jiu-jitsu. And Jones’ versatility will make the difference [at heavyweight].”
Based on his experience, de Castro was able to confidently predict the outcome of Jones’ expected debut against ex-champion Stipe Miocic.
“I don’t see anyone else at heavyweight with a good enough wrestling or ground game,” he said. “And if they have good wrestling, Jones will be superior on the feet. The Stipe fight will be perfect. Stipe weighs the same and has good boxing.
“I think Jones will run through Stipe,” he added, saying Jones likely wins by TKO.
De Castro also gave his prediction on a potential fight between Jones and current champion Francis Ngannou.
“Ngannou will be out nine months to fix his knee and then needs six more months in camp,” he explained. “Jon Jones will already be 35, and Francis will be, what? I think Jones fights once or twice more. He told me he’ll fight three times and that’s it. But if he does fight [Ngannou], it’s hard to go against Jones.
“I don’t see anyone touching the man. His wrestling is very, very, very good. His jiu-jitsu is great, he trains with Roberto Alencar at Gracie Barra. And it’s hard to touch him [on the feet]. His distance is great. I don’t think I’ve touched him once. [Laughs.] I walked forward and never touched him.
“He’s mean, has some techniques that are f—ng great. I think he’ll put Ngannou on the ground and will with his cardio, too.”
Jones hasn’t seen action since UFC 247 in February 2020, when he fought Dominick Reyes to a controversial unanimous decision win.