Teddy Atlas Draws Comparisons Between Jon Jones And Muhammad Ali: ‘He Was Off A Smiliar Amount of Time’

Teddy Atlas compared Muhammad Ali's return from inactivity to Jon Jones ahead of his heavyweight debut.

Teddy Atlas
Teddy Atlas (Left), Muhammad Ali (Middle), and Jon Jones (Right)(Images via Instagram @Teddy_Atlas @MuhammadAli and @UFC)

Teddy Atlas used Muhammad Ali as an example to predict how Jon Jones’ long layoff could affect his performance at UFC 285.

‘Bones’ last fought in February 2020, defeating Dominick Reyes by a close judge’s decision. Since then, the former UFC light heavyweight champion has been preparing his body for a new challenge in the heavyweight division. 

Jones will make his Octagon return at UFC 285 against Ciryl Gane. It could be a bad night for ‘Bon Gamin’ if ‘Bones’ is the same fighter he was at 205 pounds. The question is, how will the long layoff and added weight affect one of the greatest fighters of all time? During an ESPN MMA segment with Jon Anik, Atlas compared him to Ali:

“Not always can you point to an exhibit A. We have an exhibit A you can point to in my business, Muhammad Ali… He was off a similar amount of time, three and a half years because he was forced out because of his refusal to go into the army during the Vietnam war because of his religious beliefs. He missed three and a half years and then came back and he fought Joe Frazier and he lost and he wasn’t the same fighter, he was never gonna be the same fighter.”

Atlas continued by saying: 

“He still had the greatness of his belief, his in-ring character, but some of his skills quite frankly were eroded. The speed wasn’t the same, the elusive ability was not the same. Those things were diminished and Ali had two tune-ups… He’s [Jones] great, but is that greatness gonna be affected? I would say, again from exhibit A, yes, he will, but to what degree? And to what degree will he overcome that?”

Teddy Atlas thinks Jon Jones’ body might disagree with his supreme confidence

Jon Jones has a massive amount of confidence, and rightfully so. The 35-year-old holds a pro-MMA record of 26-1, with his only loss being a disqualification against Matt Hamill, a fight ‘Bones’ was dominating before landing illegal elbows. During the same discussion with Jon Anik, Teddy Atlas had this to say about the former UFC light heavyweight champion’s confidence:

“Jones is a champion inside… With that part of it, he’s gonna be ok because he doesn’t believe anyone can beat him, that supreme confidence, very few people have that, but his body might talk back to him a little bit, as far as the assets he’s used to having.”

Although most of the discussion has been about Jones, Gane could be going underrated heading into UFC 285. ‘Bon Gamin’ holds an 8-1 UFC record, losing to Francis Ngannou in January 2021. The former interim heavyweight champion is coming off an impressive win against Tai Tuivasa, and he’s looking to ride that momentum into a career-defining moment against ‘Bones.’

Published on March 4, 2023 at 12:46 am
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