Why Jon Jones is the GOAT of MMA

After dominating the light heavyweight division for over a decade, Jon ‘Bones’ Jones made his long-awaited return to the octagon to face UFC heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane. After a three-year hiatus from the cage and moving up a weight division it was reasonable to suspect it would not be a walk over for the returning 35-year-old, but what transpired will become part of mixed martial arts lore. Jones had not missed a step in his time off and proceeded to utterly annihilate the Frenchman inside two minutes of the very first round to claim the undisputed UFC heavyweight championship of the world in convincing fashion. The victory took his MMA record to an astonishing 27-1-0 with the only blemish on an otherwise perfect streak coming as a result of a disqualification against Matt Hamill all the way back in 2009; to date, the New York native has never been beaten by knockout, submission, or decision. He was already considered by many as the greatest of all time but this recent result puts him front and centre of the GOAT debate. There’s a long list of UFC legends in the rear view mirror, leaving us to ponder if there is anyone who could challenge him for that accolade?

We’ve seen plenty of fighters enjoy dominant runs but very few get to leave an indelible mark on the MMA world. Many of those who step foot in the octagon have gone on a charge of consecutive wins but very few have gone undefeated over a significant length of time, and even fewer still remain that way today. It’s hard to stay at the top for long. Case and point, look at Ireland’s most notorious son Conor McGregor. The 34-year-old Irishman elevated the sport of MMA to heights never seen before. His masterful mic skills and psychological warfare made him the talk of the combat sports world and shot him to superstardom on a global level. He is undoubtedly the best trash-talker in UFC history but unlike many with the gift of the gab, McGregor more often than not could back it up. He will forever be known as the first man to hold gold in two UFC weight divisions simultaneously, first claiming the featherweight title against Jose Aldo ending the brazilian’s ten year 18 fight winning streak before winning the lightweight belt off Eddie Alvarez shortly after. The notorious one is still a draw today, such is the impact he had, but even he could only sustain his momentum for three years and has since endured an arduous journey going 1-3 since becoming the double champion, failing to defend his titles once. Anyone wanting to bet on the UFC should look for the best offers when using PayPal at betting sites. His hot streak was ended by another GOAT contender in the indomitable eagle of Dagestan, Khabib Nurmagomedov. 

Unlike Jones Nurmagomedov can lay claim to a perfect 29-0 when he retired, a record in which he only lost two rounds, a phenomenal accomplishment. The former lightweight champion won his title in the most anticipated grudge match in UFC history and retired still in possession of the belt after defeating Justin Gaethje in his final fight in October 2020 to retain. He displays some impressive credentials but even the Eagle struggles to hold a candle to Jones in this debate, after all he only defended his championship three times in his career. So if not the dominant Russian, perhaps the closest contender would be former welterweight and middleweight champion George St-Pierre. For starters, the French-Canadian has been an ambassador for the UFC like no other, arguably becoming the company’s first megastar with his captivating charisma and remarkable ability in the cage. He boasts a 13 fight winning streak that lasted from 2007 all the way to 2017 along with an impressive 26-2-0 record that is marginally behind Jones’. However, those two blemishes are probably just enough to position GSP behind him in this conversation. His first loss to then champion Matt Hughes is understandable; the American had 40 fights under his belt compared to St-Pierre’s seven when they came to blows for the belt and that experience won out in the end. It’s the second loss on his record to Matt Serra that pushes him away from Jones’ elite tier here. Serra was seven years older than GSP with a significantly worse record of 9-4 going into the fight. The benefactor of an unexpected title opportunity, he came into this fight as a true underdog but made the most of his shot, stunning the champ in the first round to claim victory. The Canadian did get one back on Serra in the end but this fight alone serves as enough to push him down a rung or two on the ladder. 

The level required to acknowledge a fighter as on a level anything close to Jones is astounding. GSP is probably the closest and even he cannot say he was the youngest ever champion in the history of promotion like Jones can. He cannot say he has beaten four undefeated opponents like Jones can. He cannot say he only has one split-decision win on his record like Jones can. He cannot say he has 16 finishes under his belt like Jones can. He has set the standard for others to strive for knowing that the more he adds to his tally the harder it will be for anyone to reach that bar. He is truly in a class of his own. So now he sits on top of the heavyweight division, after 15 years in which few have offered much if any resistance at all, what’s next for the paragon of the octagon? 

While UFC President Dana White all but confirmed that former two-time heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is next in line for a shot at Jones’ belt, there are still plenty of fighters waiting in the wings should that mouth watering encounter not come to fruition, chief among them is Russian born striker Sergei Pavlovich. Pavlovich has been making waves in the heavyweight division with five straight first-round knockout victories in which he put his imposing 6”3 figure and 84-inch reach to good use. His last two wins came against notable talents Derrick Lewis and Tai Tuivasa taking the 30-year-old’s overall record to 17-1-0. Serving as the backup to the Gane Jones encounter, he’ll be frustrated that he wasn’t put into the title picture ahead of Miocic, but should Stipe falter, there is little doubt the Russian will be lying in wait for the GOAT. 

Severe MMA Staff

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