In the second part of his exclusive interviews with UFC 165 headliners Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson, Fighters Only magazine editor Nick Peet talks New York, Anderson Silva and breaking records for the current UFC light heavyweight champion.
There has been a lot of talk about Chris Weidmanās shock KO of Anderson Silva, when the middleweight title changed has for the first time in seven years in July, in the run up to next weekendās UFC light heavyweight clash between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson.
Fans and fighters have been talking about the possibility of āa year of upsetsā inside the Octagon, while Gustafsson admitted to FO too that heās taken inspiration from the performance and is planning a little upset of his own in Toronto next Saturday night.
However, Jones certainly doesnāt believe lightening is going to strike twice and, just like his latest challenger, he too is using the Silva-Weidman outcome as a motivational tool as he looks to make history and become the most successful light heavyweight champion in UFC history with a sixth defence.
āWatching UFC 162 (when Anderson was KOād inside five minutes) was crazy,ā he recalls to FO. āJust sitting there and registering something like that is mind blowing. To see a great champion and an entire legacy just end like that, it was humbling. It lets you know that it can happen to anyone. Youāve got to take everything and everyone seriously and youāve got to respect the sport.
āBut at the same time I still believe Anderson can come back. Heās still has it and he just got caught basically.ā
Prior to being knocked out, Anderson was being mooted as a future opponent for Jones, in a superfight likely to draw in big crowds and even bigger PPV numbers across the Atlantic. And, whilst not overly keen to fight the middleweight great, Jones admits that it could still happen in 2014.
āAll Anderson has to do is win his next fight (Weidman rematch, UFC 168) decisively and thereās the interest right there. Itās still on, the superfight,ā he says. āIāve never really been overly anxious to face Anderson Silva though to be honest. I knew the fight could happen but I never had any desire to be the one to beat him or anything like that.
āAfter he lost I Tweeted about my disappointment and that him losing sucked, but it was just because watching a champion lose always sucks. Itās like heās also a member of this special league of gentlemen and when you see one of the guys get taken down it sucks. But Anderson, and any thought of a superfight, well, itās still there.ā
Yet regardless of what happens in the division below in December, first Jones must overcome his latest obstacle and Gustafsson, the legit number one contender at 205lb, is brimming with confidence. And Jones admits, heās excited by the challenge ahead ā and that opportunity to break Tito Ortizās long-standing five-defence light heavyweight title reign.
He says: āThis fight really excites me. Itās for the record. Itās very rare to have the opportunity to be the number one at something. Iām already the champion, but to be the greatest light heavyweight statistically doesnāt come around too often. So this fight is very important for me.ā
He adds: āI believe every champion should push themselves, and put a lot of pressure on themselves. You should be out there striving for greatness. Iām the CEO of Team Bones Jones. In fact, Iām the CEO, the president and the spokesperson for Team Bones Jones and I know I have to be at the top of my game to do something really special so, yeahā¦ thatās how my mind works.ā
As for his preparation, well, the world press tour certainly didnāt help, as both fighters only went into full camp with seven weeks to go, but Jones is happy heāll be firing on all cylinders come show time and insists he never made too many changes to his usual preparation.
āThe press tour, of course, made an impact on my preparations but Iām where I need to be now. Iām ready for this fight,ā he stats. āWe made plenty of small changes to cater for what he brings to the fight, but nothing substantial. No camps are ever the same, but there wasnāt an overhaul of my training simply because heās tall. The distancing and timing will come as the fight nears, but I try not to overthink any fight or any opponent.
āThe press tour was arduous but different, and I mean that in a good way. I got to know him, got to see how he acts, got to see little things like when heās comfortable and stuff. When you see someone a lot itās easier to visualize yourself being in front of him.
āIāve faced off with him like 12 times already, so I know where my nose lines up with his nose. Alexander is tall, he has a presence. So I choose to look him in the eyes to let him know that Iām here, Iām the same height, I embrace us being the same height, and I want to let him know thereās only room for one tall guy in there.ā
āI actually like the guy; heās cool. I think weād actually be friends if we werenāt fighting one another.ā
UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson takes place at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Saturday 21st September. For TV coverage in your area check local listings.