The longtime Jackson-Wink talent recently returned from more than three years of sitting on the sidelines to take on Ciryl Gane at UFC 285—for Francis Ngannou’s vacated crown. ‘Bones’ broke down Gane’s wrestling and grappling game almost immediately in their bout, defeating the Frenchman via submission, just two minutes into the first round.
That victory set the 36-year-old up for a matchup years in the making. A bout against former divisional king Stipe Miocic. Miocic hasn’t competed since losing his title to Francis Ngannou back in 2021 via second round knockout. But that doesn’t mean Jones is taking the Strong Style Fight Team trained athlete lightly. In fact, Jones that’s why he has brought in Gordon Ryan, who is one of the world’s best grapplers to sharpen his game.
Gordon Ryan doesn’t see anything ‘special’ in Stipe Miocic’s grappling ahead of UFC 295
Recently, a number of videos have surfaced featuring Jon Jones’ grappling sessions with multiple time ADCC world champion Gordon Ryan. Jones may not necessarily be getting the better of Gordon Ryan on the mat, but Ryan has been impressed by Jones ability to learn new moves and change up attacks. When it comes to Stipe Miocic’s grappling, however, it seems Gordon Ryan, the longtime Danaher Death Squad disciple, doesn’t see much to worry about.
“Stipe, there’s nothing really special that he does as an MMA grappler,” Gordon Ryan said in an interview with Morning Kombat (transcript via MMA Mania). “He’s not bad, but it’s not like he has an amazing ability to hip heist up or an amazing triangle or armbar or gets mounted on you, you’re never gonna get up. He’s kind of like a good, generic, all-around guy. So, I think that — obviously, Jon studies a lot of tape on him as well — at this point, Jon is just interested in doing things that he wants to improve upon as an athlete himself.”
“If there was one thing I saw that Stipe did that was dangerous to Jon, or that I think could give Jon problems, then I would force Jon to be in those positions,” Gordon Ryan said. “But Stipe’s not known as a super dangerous grappler so I think it’s just overall Jon is just trying to improve as an athlete.”
Back in 2019, Miocic actually did participate in a professional grappling match, losing to Springfield police officer Aaron Howard at a Fight 2 Win event in Cleveland. The BJJ match was a charity event for Miocic, but even so, he was disappointed not to get the victory.
“I didn’t know the rules,” Miocic told the News-Herald after losing a judges decision. “He’s a tough guy. Not taking anything away from him. He won.”
“We’re gonna grapple again. I want a rematch.”
Gordon Ryan reveals two things he was shocked to learn about Jon Jones
While Gordon Ryan didn’t seem too impressed with Miocic, conversely, he says Jones was shockingly good at two things.
“The two things that impressed me to a very shocking degree with him was No. 1, his ability to learn moves,” Ryan added. “Because most guys at his level who are successful, and most guys who are in their mid-30s and they already have an established game over two decades, they have their game then once you teach them something they don’t really retain. It’s like they have their game and that’s it.
“With Jon, he’s always looking to integrate new things into his game and if he has five different topics he asks me about and I teach him five things, he might disregard three of them but if he likes two of them, he will immediately be like, ‘Okay. That’s a part of my game now.’
“I’ll teach him a move, and by the end of the week, he will not just use it, but he will find ways to integrate it into different part of his game for MMA. I’ll teach him a move from a certain position, and three days later, he’s using the move from three other different positions, or three different set ups that he came up with intuitively on his own. So that was really impressive.
“Another thing is he has an incredible ability to intuitively change pace and change game plans through the course of a round, or over the course of days or weeks,” Gordon Ryan explained. “I was having success with a few moves and then he kind of picked up on that pattern without me even telling him, and he changed that. Next time, I can’t do it, so now I have to change my game.
“So we have this whole dynamic thing that we do, where we are changing what we do to adjust to each other the whole time. The game we play in the beginning of the first round will look nothing like the game we’re playing in the fifth round.”
Cain Velasquez feels Miocic is a legit threat to Jones
At the moment, Jon Jones is sitting as a pretty comfortable favorite over Stipe Miocic (in the -370 to -420 range on various sports books). But despite those numbers and Gordon Ryan’s feelings on the fight, that doesn’t mean everyone thinks that Jones is a shoo-in for victory. In a recent interview with The Schmo, former UFC champ Cain Velasquez gave his thoughts on the matchup, and on Miocic’s skills.
“I mean, Jon Jones: the greatest ever. The greatest ever that you’re ever going to see—especially somebody at that weight class, 205, and now heavyweight,” Velasquez explained (transcript via MMA Junkie). “Obviously a complete fighter, mentally the strongest competitor that you’re going to face out there, but there is always that puncher’s chance. There’s always that maybe chance.
“That’s what continues to bring interest in the fights. Stipe, the greatest heavyweight out there, arguably. He brings so many threats to Jon Jones. Obviously, your gut will tell you that Jon Jones may come out of this on top. But there’s always that maybe, and Stipe’s one of those guys that can bring out that big maybe in this fight.”
To Velasquez’s point, Miocic has only been bested four times in his 13-year MMA career, and avenged two of those losses. Daniel Cormier managed to knockout the longtime firefighter in their 2018 matchup, but Miocic returned the following year to beat DC and take back his title, defeating the AKA fighter once again in 2020 to retain the title. That said, while Jones technically has one loss on his record, no one has ever gotten the better of him inside the Octagon. And at 41-years-old time is no longer on Miocic’s side.
UFC 295 takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Nov. 11th. Alongside the heavyweight main event, Jiri Prochazka will face off against Alex Pereira for the vacant light heavyweight title in the co-main. A women’s strawweight top contender’s bout between Mackenzie Dern and Jessica Andrade is also expected for the card.
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