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‘Return of the King’: Jon Jones and the 11-year journey to heavyweight at UFC 285

Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Jon Jones promised in 2012 that heavyweight was his UFC destiny. Eleven years later, the former light heavyweight champion is making good on his word at UFC 285.

Ahead of Jones’ return against Ciryl Gane for the vacant UFC heavyweight title on Saturday night, MMA Fighting’s Shaun Al-Shatti and E. Casey Leydon tell the story of the long, strange trip that brought “Bones” to heavyweight and the stakes at play for UFC 285.

That video can be watched above.

Footage courtesy of Zuffa LLC.

Jones headlines UFC 285 opposite Gane on March 4 in his long-awaited heavyweight debut, which takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Widely considered the greatest light heavyweight of all-time, Jones has competed 22 times in the UFC without suffering a loss outside of his controversial disqualification against Matt Hammill in 2009. A two-time UFC champion, Jones is tied for the most successful title defenses in UFC history (11), but also has the distinction of being the only UFC fighter to ever be stripped of his title three times. His many outside-of-the-cage issues have become as much of a part of his story as his unparalleled in-cage greatness over 15 years in the UFC.

Jones, 35, has not competed since eking out a controversial decision win over Dominick Reyes in February 2020 — the longest layoff of his Hall of Fame career.

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