A closer look at why Jon Jones is the G.O.A.T. and it’s not even close

Jon Jones is the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. Case closed. And the case cannot be reopened for at least five years, because that will be the time it will take before we can recognize another combatant trying to stay on the heels of Jones’ accomplishments.

After dominating the light heavyweight division from 2008 until his retirement in 2020, Jones returned after a three-year hiatus to roll over Ciryl Gane and win the UFC Heavyweight Championship. To date, no opponent has beaten him by knockout, submission, or decision in an MMA fight. And in a sport so unpredictable, the only thing that has stayed constant is Jon Jones’ triumph.

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For the majority of fans, Jon Jones stamped himself as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time long before he defeated Gane. But there were people who refused to crown him because of issues outside the octagon, but there’s no better fighter than Jones when the cage door closes. Question his character all you want, but this is truly a situation where the art is separated from the artist, and the picture Jon Jones painted belongs in the Louvre.

Statistically, Jon Jones is the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, and not even close. Jones’ recent win has further separated him from his competition and made it really difficult for the next generation of MMA fighters to match the high standards he has set. But if we look at the past, there’s no one who can realistically challenge Jones’ status as a GOAT

We’ve seen fighters show their dominance in a short space of time. Conor McGregor, Israel Adesanya and Khabib Nurmagomedov come to mind. But her stint at the top was relatively short compared to Jon Jones. Nurmagomedov won the lightweight title in 2018 and defended it just three times before calling it a career in 2020. Israel Adesanya’s rise has been rapid, having made his UFC debut in 2018 and becoming the undisputed champion 18 months later. But he only defended the title five times before being beaten by Alex Pereira in 2022 and his bid to move up a weight class fell through when he dropped a decision against then-champion Jan Blachowicz in 2021. Conor McGregor might have been the first fighter to hold world titles in two divisions simultaneously when he defeated Eddie Alvarez in 2016, but he hasn’t defended either title and has gone 1-3 since being named “Champ-Champion.” .

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Jones’ torrid reign began on his UFC debut in 2008, when he became the youngest-ever UFC champion in 2011 by defeating Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and he fought at least once a year through 2020. He was a consistent presence in the UFC until his hiatus. When he came back it was like he never left and now he aspires to be as dominant in the heavyweight division as he is in the light heavyweight division.

To be honest, he doesn’t have to do anything else. Statistically, the gap between Jon Jones and his competition is significant. A closer look at his peers will paint a better picture.

Anderson Silva was once considered the GOAT, but questions about the quality of his competition and a 1-7 (1 no contest) in his last eight UFC fights have put a damper on his resume. The door can also be slammed on Nurmagomedov’s claim, considering Jon Jones has more UFC title wins (15) than Khabib in total fights in the UFC (13).

For comparison, the man many think is Jones’ closest is former welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre. The Franco-Canadian has long been an ambassador for the UFC and mixed martial arts in general. A great character that comes with an exceptional career, many consider GSP to be the GOAT. On closer inspection, however, the distance between Jones and St-Pierre is not as small as some would like to believe.

(Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/GETTY)

For starters, St-Pierre has two losses in his MMA career: Matt Hughes and Matt Serra. Those blemishes alone made him fall behind Jones. However, it’s the first-round KO loss to Serra that really puts a damper on the argument. Seven years older at 32, Serra was a massive underdog who had a title shot after winning The Ultimate Fighter 4 Welterweight Tournament. Before winning the tournament, Serra was 9-4 with losses to BJ Penn, Karo Parisyan, Din Thomas and Shonie Carter. It’s not like Serra is riding a wave of momentum into this fight. Unfortunately, he fell and stopped GSP in just one lap. St-Pierre would have his revenge, but the loss is still the most obvious reason he can’t be compared to Jones.

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Losing to Matt Hughes at UFC 50 is much more forgivable as St-Pierre was unbeaten with a 7-0 record when facing the champion. Hughes had a tremendous experience lead with a 36-4 record and was considered the greatest welterweight of all time. Hughes was also eight years older than his opponent at 31.

Jon Jones had no such problem against champions and those significantly more experienced than him. Some have suggested that Rua was on the downside of his career when he faced Jones, but that’s not true at all. He might not have been the destroyer he was at PRIDE FC, but he was lethal and became champion after defeating then-undefeated Lyoto Machida in the rematch. Rua’s MMA record was 19-4 and he was six years older than Jones at age 29 when he went into the title fight in 2011. But Jones, 23, cut right through Rua to become the youngest-ever UFC champion in the promotion’s history. This record still stands today. To further emphasize his dominance, he choked Machida to sleep when they met later that year.

The total combined MMA records of Jones’ UFC opponents before they faced him – including the opponents he fought twice – is a stellar 397-87-2, or 78%. As for St-Pierre, his opponents’ combined MMA record is an impressive 432-77-4, or an 82% win rate.

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On the surface, it may appear that GSP has an advantage in enemy quality. However, two opponents who challenged Jones for the light heavyweight title – Chael Sonnen and Anthony Smith – had double-digit losses. Although Smith fought his way into the title shot, Sonnen, due to his popularity at the time, talked his way into the title shot. Jones has the edge when it comes to beating previously undefeated fighters – four to one from GSP – and seven of his opponents have been former UFC champions, while St-Pierre has five former champions on his résumé.

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Jones has never lost and there is only one split decision on his list (Thiago Santos), while St-Pierre has two losses and two split decision wins. Not to mention Jones’ finishing rate of 63% while St-Pierre lags behind at 53%.

For some reason there are people who think St-Pierre has been fighting longer than Jon Jones, but both have been professional MMA fighters for 15 years. And when it comes to the UFC, GSP has competed 22 times in the Octagon over the course of 13 years, while Jon Jones has fought 23 times in nearly 15 years (Jones fought six times in four months before debuting in the UFC). Jones took a three-year hiatus before returning to a new division and winning a championship, while St-Pierre was gone for four years, returning in a new weight class to clinch a title.

Tenures are almost the same, but Jones is undefeated with few opponents putting up much resistance. His latest performance proves Jones isn’t among the elite anymore, is he Is the elite. He sets a standard that every fighter should aspire to, but few can come close. The longer he fights and keeps winning, the higher the bar becomes for his fellow combatants.

And that’s what becoming the GOAT means

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