“The reason why I didn’t take the fight [in February] is because I don’t feel my body is ready for a training camp,” Jones told MMAjunkie. “I wanted to be there for the fans, I wanted to be there for the UFC, but in order for me to do that, I need to listen to my body and come prepared to compete, and that’s being healthy.”
Although Jones’ most recent fight, a narrow decision win over Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165, took place in September, he’s still feeling the effects of the grueling contest.
Gustafsson pushed the champion to his absolute limit for five hard rounds, and even though he won, Jones came out of the fight far from unscathed.
The 26-year-old suffered a large laceration above his right eye early in the fight with “The Mauler,” and he also aggravated the toe injury he gruesomely suffered against Chael Sonnen at UFC 159 earlier this year.
Several months later, those injuries are still lingering for the champion, which is why he didn’t feel comfortable accepting a fight at either February event.
“My eye is definitely not ready to be punched,” Jones said. “I’m afraid that it could reopen, which would make scarring terrible and prolong the whole thing even more. My foot is definitely not ready to go yet. I wake up to step off the bed, and it’s cracking and crackling and stuff. I’m just not ready for the training camp.”
“He’s just an amazing athlete,” Jones said. “(He’s) a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, one of the best boxers I’ve ever faced, probably has the most knockout power I’ve ever gone against. It’s just a big match. He’s a big, scary, intimidating dude, and when I fight these guys, it brings out the best in me.”