Dan Hardy isn’t sure how well Jon Jones will transition to heavyweight.
Jones (26-1 MMA, 20-1 UFC) will finally make his heavyweight debut when he meets Ciryl Gane (11-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) for the vacant title in the UFC 285 headliner March 4 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The former light heavyweight champion has bulked up significantly since he last competed in February 2020, but Hardy questions if all the physical gifts he possesses at 205 pounds will serve him well.
“We don’t know how he’s going to perform with the bigger frame,” Hardy told MMA Junkie. “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 who 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’ heavyweight debut will come against arguably the most agile fighter in the division in Ghana. “Bon Gamin’s” movement has troubled all of his opposition so far, and Hardy expects him to be a stern test for Jones.
“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 Cyril 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 Cyril 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 who have got a good work rate and a long reach.”
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