In November, Jones will defend his UFC heavyweight title against Miocic in the main event of UFC 295. At 41 years old, and coming off a 32-month layoff, oddsmakers aren’t giving Miocic much of a chance, but Jones disagrees, saying that he’s still fixated on the fight and the dangers Miocic poses as the fight draws closer.
“I feel like when you get to a place when you don’t feel anything is probably when it’s time to hang it up and try something different,” Jones said on the OverDogs podcast. “At this point, I still get really nervous, man. I have nightmares about my opponents. About every hour, Stipe Miocic will cross my mind. He will cross my mind. I could be having a drink, you name it, he crosses my mind. I could be at my kid’s volleyball game and I thinking about Stipe. There’s a lot of mental that goes into it that I don’t think people realize. But the goal is to just conquer that.”
Though he is widely recognized as the most accomplished heavyweight in UFC history, Miocic has not fought since his knockout loss to Francis Ngannou in their rematch at UFC 260. But despite that, and the crop of surging contenders in the heavyweight division, Jones insists that the fight with Miocic is the matchup that makes the most sense, given what the two men have accomplished in their careers and the fact that it’s widely presumed that Miocic will retire after this fight.
“Stipe has balls. He has courage,” Jones said. “He’s not the youngest fighter, but that is a man. That is a man. I’m not the youngest either. In sports’ years, I’m over the hill, that’s for sure. Especially in combat sports. Stipe, he’s an honorable dude, and I know that he’s a man at the end of the day, and I know that he wants this fight. Everyone else thinks that his back’s against the wall and this is a David and Goliath situation for him, I disagree. I think Stipe is a very capable athlete and I think I owe it to Stipe to give him that chance to fight the best fighter ever. And I think Stipe owes it to me to give me a chance to fight the greatest heavyweight ever. I think we owe it to each other. I feel like we both would feel like we have unfinished business if we walked away not competing against each other.
“I understand where Stipe is at, just being looked past by a lot of people, and I respect him even more for training his ass off. I know that in his camp, he expects to win, so I respect him.”
But after Miocic, where does Jones go next? The answer may be to follow him into retirement, because Jones admits that fighting the Sergei Pavlovich’s and Tom Aspinall’s of the world has little appeal to him. At least at this stage of their careers.
“As far as these younger fighters, I look at guys like Aspinall and I look at guys like Sergei, dude, they’re amazing,” Jones said. “Don’t get me wrong, these guys are amazing. They’re starching people in the first round. But as I get older I have to look at it as a business and not just speak out of pride, I have to speak out of my legacy and as a business. If the hardcore fans know who these guys are, that’s great, but at the end of the day, I need to fight people that the mainstream public is going to be excited about, because there’s always going to be this new challenge that’s younger than you and everyone is going to want to see if you can do it one more time. It is what it is.”
And if Jones does walk away after UFC 295, either permanently or just to take some time off, the man many consider the greatest fighter of all time believes that the heavyweight division will be in good hands in his absence.
“Tom Aspinall, I think he has the potential to do something really special in the heavyweight division,” Jones said. “I think he’s going to be hard for the majority of guys to beat, I really do believe that.”
UFC 295 takes place on Nov. 11 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.