Jones said that he has revaluated the people around him and that his lifestyle has become calmer and simpler. He developed new hobbies, such as dog training and flying drones, and said in an interview last week that he felt he was in a “better place.”
“A lot of my young life was on a fast track,” he said. “Over the last two years, I’ve really got to evaluate my friends and the circle and my mentors, and I feel like I’m a product of my friendships these days. I’ve never been more proud of my team.”
Jones vacated the light heavyweight belt in 2020 to transition to heavyweight. He said that he would cut as many as 25 pounds during fight week and that he wanted to challenge himself against different opponents. He said he began weight training four times a week and adapted his diet to include more red meat, fish, chicken, rice and protein shakes.
During that time, he, like Ngannou, also bickered with the U.F.C. over increased pay. In March 2021, Jones wrote on Twitter, “Please just cut me already,” requesting that he be released by the organization. But the tone of the negotiations improved over time, Jones said, and the U.F.C. offered him a deal that made him feel “immediately respected.” Richard Schaefer, Jones’s representative, said in a January broadcast interview that Jones’s restructured contract most likely made him the second-highest-paid U.F.C. fighter behind McGregor.
“People argue — that’s just a part of life,” Jones said. “I don’t take this personal, and Dana doesn’t either.”
The body transformation sparked a seamless performance worthy of his higher salary. He took Gane down early in the first round Saturday and pinned him against the fence. He then transitioned to a guillotine front-side choke and squeezed until Gane tapped in submission.
Before White said he would no longer negotiate with Ngannou, Jones, in the interview Tuesday, said he would be open to the fight. He said that while the two shared different perspectives, he respected his approach.