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For a while it seemed as they were on a collision course for a fight in the cage but with their rivalry having eased, Jon Jones has expressed his support for Israel Adesanya’s decision to step away from mixed martial arts temporarily.

Speaking to ‘The Rock’ podcast a month or so removed from his surprise middleweight title defeat against Sean Strickland in Sydney, Australia in the UFC 293 main event, Adesanya said that it will be a “long time” before he fights again.

“I’m going to take time to look after myself, and I’m not going to fight for a long time,” the two-time 185-pound champion said. “I’m definitely not going to retire because I know me. I’m not leaving like that. I know me. But if I did, I’m fine. I don’t need to prove anything else.

“But I know what I can do and what I can change in my lifestyle to make my body adapt to where I need to be. I’m going to heal myself up. You won’t see me fight for a long time.”

And Jones, a fighter who has taken a few lengthy absences from competition over his record-breaking career, has backed the move of his former rival.

“Hey @stylebender,” Jones wrote on social media. “I just want to let you know I support your decision to take a break from fighting. Taking those last three years off was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Always put YOU first brother. Protect your heart, protect your mimd & spirit. Proud of you Champ.”

Jones was referring to the more than three-year gap between his final fight at light heavyweight, a close decision win over Dominick Reyes, and his debut in the heavyweight division earlier this year against Ciyrl Gane in which he won the then-vacant world title.

Jones returns to the cage next month in Madison Square Garden in New York City where he will attempt to defend his crown against another former champion, Stipe Miocic, in a bout rumoured to be the final fight of Jones’ illustrious career.