Jon Jones is teasing a return to the octagon for his heavyweight debut against ex-champion Stipe Miocic in September, and former UFC heavyweight Yorgan De Castro expects “Bones” to excel in this new chapter of his career.
De Castro, who faces Junior dos Santos on May 20 at Eagle FC, said on a recent episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca that spending days in the gym with Jones gave him an interesting perspective of what to expect from the MMA legend at heavyweight.
“It would have to be someone with good ground game, like Fabricio Werdum, to maybe give him some problem on the ground,” said De Castro, who’s won back-to-back fights since leaving the UFC in 2021. “I don’t see anyone else at heavyweight with a good enough wrestling or ground game. And if they have good wrestling, Jones will be superior on the feet. The Stipe fight will be perfect. Stipe weighs the same and has good boxing.
“I think Jones will run through Stipe.”
De Castro said Jones vs. Miocic makes sense for Jones’ heavyweight debut since Miocic is one of the most dominant champions in UFC history and needs to get back on track after losing to current titleholder Francis Ngannou, while Jones is making his highly anticipated debut after defeating the who’s who at 205 pounds for a decade.
“I think [Jones] will take him down and win by TKO,” De Castro said. “He’s been waiting two years for this. He’s walking around at 255 pounds but is so strong. And cardio will be the key. He has so much cardio. He hits pads for two hours and doesn’t slow down.
“You’re never comfortable with him in sparring. If you start to gets comfortable with the hands, he wrestles you. If you want to get up, he throws elbows and knees. Not many people can do that at heavyweight. Everybody has heavy hands, but not many people can combine with the wrestling and jiu-jitsu. And Jones’ versatility will make the difference [at heavyweight].”
Regardless of Jones’ potential success in an eventual clash with Miocic, De Castro doesn’t believe the former champ will face Ngannou inside the octagon.
The issue, he said, is timing.
“Ngannou will be out nine months to fix his knee and then needs six more months in camp,” De Castro said. “Jon Jones will already be 35, and Francis will be, what? I think Jones fights once or twice more. He told me he’ll fight three times and that’s it. But if he does fight [Ngannou], it’s hard to go against Jones.
“I don’t see anyone touching the man. His wrestling is very, very, very good. His jiu-jitsu is great, he trains with Roberto Alencar at Gracie Barra. And it’s hard to touch him [on the feet]. His distance is great. I don’t think I’ve touched him once. [Laughs.] I walked forward and never touched him. He’s mean, has some techniques that are f****** great. I think he’ll put Ngannou on the ground and will with his cardio, too.”