Jon Jones took a sly dig at Khabib Nurmagomedov in the immediate aftermath of the main event at UFC 281.
Ahead of the UFC’s latest pay-per-view show, at Madison Square Garden in New York, Nurmagomedov talked up headline act Israel Adesanya who he expected to defend his middleweight belt.
“I don’t miss Adesanya’s fights and actually feel like he doesn’t get the credit he deserve. If he defends the title a couple more times, he will be on the same level with Jon Jones. Good luck Israel Adesanya #UFC281,” he tweeted.
However, ‘The Last Stylebender’ ended up suffering a shock knockout loss to his old kickboxing rival, Alex Pereira, who rallied in the fifth round for the win on Saturday night.
‘Poatan’ previously beat Adesanya by unanimous decision when they first fought in another sport in 2016 before knocking him out in a rematch that prompted the now-former UFC middleweight king to move to MMA.
After previously going back and forth with Adesanya about a potential fight, Jones was clearly happy to see him lose, and he used Khabib’s tweet to rub salt into the fresh wound.
“I appreciate the kind words, Champ,” he wrote on social media alongside a screenshot of Nurmagomedov’s pre-fight praise of Adesanya.
‘Bones’ is regarded by many as the best fighter in MMA history but hasn’t competed since February 2020 when he defended the 205lb belt by beating Dominick Reyes at UFC 247.
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After that, the UFC Hall of Famer relinquished his belt and announced he will compete at heavyweight moving forward.
However, the bulking-up process, a UFC contract dispute, and a lack of viable opponents mean he’s been out of action ever since.
Jones has been pushing for a fight with the former heavyweight king, Stipe Miocic, at UFC 282 on December 10 but UFC boss Dana White recently confirmed that fight will not happen until 2023, if at all.
The 35-year-old could instead face Francis Ngannou, the current UFC heavyweight champion who has been sidelined for the vast majority of 2022 after undergoing knee surgery.
He’ll be back in action early next year and could welcome Jones to the heavyweight division if he is able to come to terms with the MMA leader on a new deal.
Ngannou’s latest UFC contract expired amid talk of crossover boxing fights with the likes of Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, and Deontay Wilder who could tempt him to leave MMA behind.
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