Former UFC fighter Yorgan de Castro is a training partner of Jon Jones and has given a rare insight into how good the ex-light-heavyweight champion really is now that he’s walking around at 255lbs in preparation for his first fight at heavyweight.
“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 on Portugese podcast, Trocação Franca.
“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].”
Jones is expected to face former heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic in his heavyweight debut, and while that may seem like a tough match-up to settle into a new weight class after two years out, de Castro feels that ‘Bones’ has what it takes to make it look easy.
“I don’t see anyone else at heavyweight with a good enough wrestling or ground game. 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,” De Castro said, suggesting that he’ll win by TKO.
De Castro, who only mustered a 1-3 record during his time as a heavyweight in the UFC, but holds an 8-3 record overall, also gave more insight into how he had fared against Jones in sparring.
“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.”
Interestingly, while giving his opinion on how Jones would do against current champion Francis Ngannou, de Castro also potentially spilled the beans on the star’s future plans at heavyweight, suggesting that he’s not intending to stick around for a long time.
“Ngannou will be out nine months to fix his knee and then needs six more months in camp,” de Castro said. “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.”