Jon Jones spoke to ESPN’s Brett Okamato about his experience with pre-fight nerves and anxiety ahead of his UFC 239 showdown with Thiago Santos.
Not that Jones has any reason to be nervous.
His most recent run atop the 205lb pile has seen him display his skills to an even greater level, showcasing both watertight defense and clinical offense in equal measure to leave his opponents completely out of their depth.
At this point, Jones is simply ticking off names in the division and while his next opponent Thiago Santos is seen as a danger in terms of the power he brings to the table, very few are giving him a chance at winning the fight outright.
Speaking in a recent interview with ESPN, the UFC light-heavyweight champion explained how his years at the very top of the game have somewhat hardened him to the nerves that a lot of fighters may feel in the dressing room.
“It’s all so familiar, high pressure moments, tough opponents, fighting the next scariest guy, the guy that’s on the tear. And it’s all so familiar right now. It’s almost too comfortable in this space.
“I’d appreciate being a little more nervous, it would make me feel like I’m more ready. But I am ready and I feel great.”
When asked by Okamoto about the last time he felt those pre-fight nerves, he cited his UFC 232 rematch with Alexander Gustafsson as a real instance of him feeling the pressure.
The fight, of course, stood as the second helping of their original 2013 classic, a matchup that saw Bones pushed to his furthest limits.
Even if the rematch was an easy win for Jones, he still admitted to feeling nervous beforehand.
”Last time? I think the Gustafsson fight. Gustafsson 2. It can’t help but to be. He’s the one person that put me in a hospital after 10 years of fighting. Put me on morphine.
“The guy who was just as tall, just as long as me. Gustafsson, I had a lot of questions about how I would perform in a rematch against Gustafsson. And those questions were answered, and I liked the answers.”
Jones will enter the octagon on Saturday night as a massive betting favourite, although the danger that is presented to him in the form of Santos brings enough intrigue to the table that the fight still has quite a few people excited.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena