Jon Jones submits Ciryl Gane in first round to win heavyweight title at UFC 285

Jon Jones returned to the UFC in March to collect a title in a second division (Getty Images)

Jon Jones submitted Ciryl Gane in the first round to win the vacant heavyweight title at UFC 285 on Saturday.

Jones, seen by many as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, was fighting for the first time in three years, and he required just two minutes and four seconds to seal the most sensational of returns.

The American, whose career has been marred by numerous failed drug tests and run-ins with the law, is a former two-time light-heavyweight champion, and talks of a move up to heavyweight first began 10 years ago. That move finally came to fruition at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, as Jones and Gane clashed for the title vacated by Francis Ngannou in January.

Gane, whose sole previous defeat came at the hands of Ngannou last year, immediately landed a kick to the groin of Jones, who took a moment to recover.

Once the action resumed, Gane, 32, soon overshot with a straight punch, and Jones was quick to take the Frenchman’s back.

Jones, 35, dragged the former interim champion to the canvas and soon locked in a guillotine choke with his opponent against the fence, and Gane could only resist for so long before tapping out.

Jones used his in-ring interview after the main event to call out Stipe Miocic, who is widely regarded as the greatest heavyweight in UFC history – and who was at ringside for UFC 285.

In 2011, Jones became the youngest champion in UFC history at the age of 23, and “Bones” went on to beat numerous past and future champions, while recording 15 title fight wins – the most ever in the promotion. However, he was twice stripped of the light-heavyweight title and once stripped of the interim belt, due to two failed drug tests and an arrest respectively. Jones, who reclaimed the gold in 2018, last fought in February 2020, retaining the belt with a controversial decision win against Dominick Reyes.

Following a long contract dispute with the UFC, Jones finally confirmed his return to the Octagon earlier this year, after Ngannou exited the promotion amid his own pay dispute. The Cameroonian last competed in January 2022, outpointing ex-teammate Gane to retain the heavyweight title, while Gane entered that fight as interim champion.

In the co-main event of UFC 285, Alexa Grasso stunned Valentina Shevchenko with a fourth-round submission to win the women’s flyweight title and hand her opponent a first loss in six years.

With that result, Grasso became the first female Mexican champion in UFC history. She also became the third active Mexican champion, with Brandon Moreno currently holding the men’s flyweight belt and Yair Rodriguez serving as interim men’s featherweight champion.

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