Ominous signs for OSP as Jon Jones claims to be better than ever

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With all the furore surrounding Conor McGregor’s recent retirement and subsequent axing from UFC 200, it’s easy to forget that arguably the greatest fighter of all time, Jon Jones, is back in action this weekend. “Bones” steps into the octagon after a year-long hiatus against the dangerously underrated Ovince Saint Preux at UFC 197. Speaking to the media last weekend, Jones spoke ominously about how the time off has affected him:

“And so I’m just trying to prove to myself that I have in fact gotten a lot better. And this fight is going to tell me a lot about where I’m at right now. So I feel like I’ve gotten better since I’ve been gone.”

During his layoff, there were numerous photos shared on social media in which Jones appeared to have stacked on a substantial amount of muscle, sparking rumours of a jump up to heavyweight. While Jones indicated that he has since slimmed down, he is still seeing the advantages of that added size:

“I was 240lbs at one point just a few months ago. You know lifting all types of crazy weight. And now I’m about 218. And still great. I feel a lot like the athlete I was before. I just – I think I punch harder. And I’m a little more explosive, you know.”

A bigger physique prompted quite a lot of discussion in terms of how it might affect Jones’ fighting ability, with some corners claiming that the fluidity and movement for which he is known would be stifled. Jones responded to these claims with typical confidence:

“I heard a lot of people say powerlifting is going to make Jon have a bad weight cut. I heard a lot of people say powerlifting is going to mess with Jon’s flexibility. I heard people say powerlifting is going to mess with my cardio… Right now I’m ahead of the game in my weight cut. My cardio I believe is better than it’s ever been. My flexibility, I’m doing everything I was doing before.”

As for Saint Preux, it seems that the massive underdog doesn’t believe the short notice will have any bearing on preparations for the biggest fight of his career to date:

“I’ll be well prepared and I’ve been training. I mean pretty much the day I found out about the fight I haven’t took a break yet… So I definitely feel good. I know regardless, the way my body performs I’m definitely going to be at 100% plus walking in the cage.”

Whatever happens at UFC 197, there can be no doubting that Jon Jones is as physically and mentally prepared as he has ever been, which is bad news for anyone in his path. Saint Preux is certainly a game fighter with a very respectable record, but he is stepping into the proverbial lion’s den this weekend and we can only hope he is as ready as he claims to be.

Salon-quality hair and a right foot that could open a tin of peas. Twitter: @ahayde7