Jon Jones was the undeniable king of light-heavyweight for many years, but as he prepares to finally make his long-awaited heavyweight debut against Ciryl Gane at UFC 285 in March, Dan Hardy has raised doubts that he’ll be able to replicate that in his new weight class.
“We don’t know how he’s going to perform with the bigger frame,” Hardy said in an interview with MMAJunkie. “Of course he’s got the height and reach for heavyweight – (6-foot-4), 84.5 inches (reach). He could quite easily grow into heavyweight, but then would he be the same fighter he was at light heavyweight? The times that he struggled at light heavyweight is when he was taking on someone that had similar physical attributes.
“Remember the first (Alexander) Gustafsson fight, that was very problematic for him to begin with. Dominick Reyes was a pain for him at times, and I feel like Jon gives up a lot of his natural advantages that he had at light heavyweight when he moves to heavyweight.”
Jones was originally being lined up to face Francis Ngannou before his departure from the UFC last month, and with his size and power he would certainly have presented Jones with some significant problems, but Hardy believes that his new opponent Gane could also be a major headache for him as he’s the closest thing to a heavyweight version of the star.
“Like Ciryl Gane’s 6-4, 79-inch reach or something like that, but it’s gonna be comparable to Jon Jones in ways that say a Daniel Cormier wasn’t back at light heavyweight,” Hardy said. “And the way Ciryl Gane moves is like light heavyweights did when Jon Jones was champion – the better ones. I think this is going to be a real challenge for him, and it’s difficult to kind of picture Jon Jones in a heavyweight frame. What does he move like? What techniques has he abandoned? Is he going to have anxiety associated with because now he feels like he fills up with lactate and his muscles start to burn?
He continued, “We know how good Ciryl Gane is, and the reason why he’s so good is because he does a lot of things Jon Jones did so well at light heavyweight. I almost think it would have been easier for Jones to take on Ngannou, because at least you know what you’re getting. When he starts to move, you got to get out of the way. But Ciryl Gane never stops moving, so you can’t always stay out of the way, and we’ve seen Jon Jones kind of get outpointed a little bit at times by people that have got a good work rate and a long reach.”