Jon Jones exudes confidence.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship light-heavyweight champion knows he’s dealing with an aggressive stand-up fighter Saturday when he defends his belt for the sixth time against Sweden’s Alexander Gustafsson (15-1) in Toronto.
So Jones (18-1) dedicated himself to more boxing training than ever, putting in more than 500 rounds of work with a private boxing coach.
“My angles and distancing are much better now, I can outclass him by tightening up the one thing he’s supposed to be better than me at,” Jones said. “The way I feel now, I can channel from the Mayweather fight his swagger.
“It was great to see a champion dominate like that. Honestly, I feel so good about my boxing I’ve been thinking about one day challenging a Klitschko.”
“I want to see where life takes me, and I feel if I dedicated myself I’d be ready to get in there against one of those guys,” Jones said. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
The 6-foot-4 Jones, 26, has a phenomenal 84½-inch reach, longer than both of the world heavyweight boxing champions Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, and the way he’s dominating the UFC, perhaps boxing is a logical extension.
Since his technical knockout of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in 2011 to win the belt, Jones has disposed of past champions “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans, along with Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen (first-round TKO in April).
He can break Tito Ortiz’s record for most consecutive successful title defenses by beating the Swede.
Gustafsson, 26, is an inch taller than Jones but hasn’t shown the skill set of Jones, whose spinning backfists, acrobatic kicks, wrestling skill and conditioning have overwhelmed the organization.
Jones, the brother of NFL players Arthur and Chandler Jones, listens to self-help guru Tony Robbins, “obsesses” in reading inspiring “how-to-be-a-winner” type books and ticks off a string of life goals he’s set and achieved, including the UFC belt and a Nike endorsement.
He doesn’t believe anyone in his division -- including Glover Teixeira or Daniel Cormier -- can beat him and says his intensive homework on Gustafsson has increased that already built-in confidence.
“I study on a ridiculous level,” Jones said. “I want people to keep an eye out for how good my boxing is -- I can throw four-punch combinations, can counter and slip punches now.
“He has terrible boxing defense. Whenever someone attacks him with that, they land every time. As long as I’m punching, I’m going to be landing. I’ve heard him say he can stick and move against me. That’s not the mentality of a true fighter, that’s like a coward.
“I’m thinking how I can tear this guy’s head off. This guy is supposed to be the best striker I’ve faced. I want to send a message to how seriously I take this sport. People don’t quite realize that yet.”
When: Saturday, 7 p.m. Pacific time
Where: Toronto, Air Canada Centre
Television: Pay-per-view, $44.95 standard definition
Undercard: Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland for Barao’s interim bantamweight championship; Brendan Schaub vs. Matt Mitrione, heavyweights.