Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show: Jon Jones at peace with past, has eyes on heavyweight

The participants in Saturday night’s UFC 247 main event are set to appear on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on Monday. A recent sit-down interview with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will be followed by a chat with challenger Dominick Reyes.

Ahead of those interviews, Colby Covington will join the show. Covington, who lost a brutal slugfest to UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman in December, will discuss his health and what could be next for him.

Also scheduled for Monday’s show: Eliot Marshall, Sergio Pettis, Anthony Smith and UFC featherweight titleholder Alexander Volkanovski.

Watch the show from 1-4 p.m. ET here.


Jon Jones on his evolution as a fighter

Ariel Helwani sat down with Jon Jones to discuss a variety of topics. Here are a few of Jones’ thoughts on his career and his upcoming fight against Dominick Reyes. Jones’ responses have been edited for length and clarity.

On his career:

I’m excited to see me 10 years from now. I believe I’ll still be on top of the sport. I’ve always had a very strong conviction that I could be the greatest ever. And sure enough, it’s just years of belief and hard work — we’re here.

I do feel like the storm is behind me. It has been an interesting journey, and I’ve learned so much, and I’m just grateful. I’m grateful to have had all the lessons that I’ve been able to learn. I’m grateful that God has kept me through all of it and just allowed me to grow so much through it all. I think my best days are definitely still ahead of me. I feel like I’m just now really getting into a nice groove of what it means to be a father and a professional athlete and a person with great responsibility. And I’m excited about this, and I feel like I’m stepping into it well.

On Dominick Reyes:

Dominick Reyes, he’s a hell of an opponent. He’s undefeated, he’s extremely athletic, he believes in himself. He’s knocked out almost everyone he’s gone against. And in order to be the best ever, you got to take on all comers. And so, I’m excited for this challenge. And I know bigger fights are ahead of me, for sure. I’m only 32 years old. I’m trying to figure out new ways to just stay on top of my game and stay young and preserving myself better. I know megafights are inevitable. I just gotta be appreciative for where I am today.

He is a very capable athlete. He’s strong, he’s explosive. He has extreme power on that left side. And since I said that, I’m assuming that he’s probably exercising some things on his right. You know, some trick plays that he’s prepared for on the right. My job is to be prepared for whatever he has going on. I’ve fought a lot of versatile fighters, capable of so much. So, I’ll be prepared for the left and the right and whatever.

On his past:

You know, I can’t allow my past to hold weight over me. You’ve got to forgive yourself for mishaps in life, and you gotta move forward. You can’t hold yourself in prisons, and you can’t allow anybody else to hold yourself in prisons. If people are talking about things I did five years ago, that means I’m doing something right.

It’s taken a while for me to be able to be comfortable with some of the mistakes I’ve made and things like that. But I’m grateful that I am at a place where I’m comfortable with who I am, comfortable in my own skin. There’s no good without bad, so I’m grateful, and I just feel good.

On balance in his life:

I like to enjoy myself. I think to earn a certain life and to deal with the level of pressure that I deal with, you got to have balance in life. So I do a really good job of working and planning and just being true to myself and making myself happy and making my family happy and my friends and the coaching staff and everybody feels good. I think it’s important to feel good with what you’re doing.

On issues with past drug tests:

On moving up to heavyweight:

I feel like I really want to fight Stipe Miocic. I feel like I could beat him.

I don’t think I would need a tune-up. I’m pretty tuned-up. I’m pretty in tune. I feel great, I feel strong already. Stipe is like what, 230 or something? I feel like me at a lean 230 is plenty. I feel like I could totally beat him just based on his performances with Daniel Cormier, our speed differences, my fight IQ, our versatility, my faith and confidence. I think I’m the guy to beat him, for sure. And I want to strike while I’m feeling hot.

Right now, it’s Dominick Reyes. I’d like to fight Miocic, but at the end of the day, too, I’m happy doing what I’m doing, man. But I’ve been cruising through some victories, man, and they said this: If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. So whether I get the heavyweight title, whether it comes against him, whether it comes a few years from now, I just learned to — to just be in the moment, be grateful for just where you are now. And the future will take care of itself.

On being “done” with Israel Adesanya banter

play

2:13

Jon Jones explains why he doesn’t think Israel Adesanya would cause him any problems, claiming that Adesanya is scared of him now.

More from Helwani’s interview with Jones can be found here.


Colby Covington didn’t break his jaw, wants a rematch


Sergio Pettis says his move to Bellator “makes sense”

After seven years in the UFC, Sergio Pettis found himself at a career crossroads in late 2019. The UFC announced a fight for December between Pettis and Kai Kara-France, but he and his team discovered that Pettis had no fights left on his contract and was a free agent.

Having never tested the waters, Pettis explored his options. He was a little bit afraid of the unknown, after such a long stretch in the UFC, and Pettis was “very close” to re-signing with the organization because of the goals he still held onto — but ultimately Pettis found Bellator to be his best option. On Jan. 25, the longtime UFC flyweight successfully debuted at Bellator 238 in Inglewood, California with a first-round submission win over Alfred Khashakyan.

“The deal was better, and it made more sense,” Pettis said of his Bellator contract. “I’m only 26 years old, why not make a business move and grow my name a little bit more?”

Pettis fought the bulk of his career at flyweight, but the move to Bellator, an organization that doesn’t have that division as part of its roster, necessitated a move up to bantamweight. Pettis said the timing for such a move couldn’t have been better.

“Honestly, the 125 cuts are hard. I’m getting older, too,” Pettis said. “I was cutting about 30 to 40 pounds to make the weight every time. It was just taking a toll on my body. I felt good at 135. I felt strong. I felt ready and confident.”

Pettis is a long way from where he was just over a year ago. Coming off losses to Jussier Formiga and Rob Font in late 2018, coach Duke Roufus encouraged him to read a mission statement every day. It said, “I will be confident and fearless in all that I do. No more second guessing myself or my capabilities. Pessimistic thinking is no longer a habit. I can change my future I can change my present. By being everything I am. Great.”

“I had all these negative thoughts in my head, all these anxieties, a little bit of depression and stuff that I had to overcome,” Pettis said. “And I feel like I am overcoming it. I had to get rid of some bad habits and replace them with good habits.

“Honestly, I was having talks with my girl, talks with my cousin, and I was like, ‘Man, if I lose this third fight in a row, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I might be done. At the time, I didn’t want to fight outside of the UFC, so I was like if I’m cut, I’m going to be done. It’s crazy how it all played out.”


Eliot Marshall creating a new dynamic at Team Elevation

It’s safe to say that Eliot Marshall is building an MMA powerhouse in Denver.

Marshall is the head coach at Team Elevation, which features several promising stars in the UFC, including Cory Sandhagen, Curtis Blaydes, Drew Dober, Neil Magny and Justin Gaethje.

While Marshall is a former MMA pro who went 3-3 in the UFC, he said on The Helwani Show that he’s still learning to separate the different aspects of being a fighter and leading one in a battle.

“It’s two different things. When you are the fighter, you are nervous for a really long time,” Marshall said. “You have this 8-to-12-week camp, whatever it is that you do, and you’re like man, I’m really scared right now. So you’re kind of used to the nerves. There’s that hard part of it, but as the coach, you’re not really that nervous until, boom, walk. Then you’re like whoa, woah, I don’t have any control over what’s going to happen right now.”

Marshall, however, knows he has something special with his team, and hopes it can bring home two UFC championships this year. But while titles are dandy, Marshall said there’s a bigger picture that he’s focused on with Team Elevation.

“I hope we have two straps by the end of the year,” Marshall said. “I think we could do it. That would be amazing. But what would be even more amazing for me, to be super honest with you, is that all of the guys on the team that we have now, that they have amazing lives. Even the ones that you don’t know. Even the ones that show up and train with the Corys and the Curtises and the Drews and the Neils … everyone doesn’t get to be Tom Brady. But Tom Brady needs those guys. My goal is to spread as much love and positivity in the world through martial arts so that we can all live better lives.”

Helwani Show lineup

Current guest: Dominick Reyes

Coming up:

3:40 p.m.: Alexander Volkanovski

The new UFC featherweight champ will discuss what could be next for him.

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