At just 26 years of age, Jon Jones has already cemented his place as the greatest light heavyweight in mixed martial arts history, defending his UFC light heavyweight title the most times in the promotion’s history. But, is Jones the greatest fighter in the sport’s history?
Defending his title for the seventh time at UFC 172 in a dominant performance against Glover Teixeira, Jones is now lined up to face Alexander Gustafsson for a second time later this year. Gustafsson is the only fighter to cause Jones any real problems, and some even gave the Swede four rounds in their Fight of the Year battle at UFC 165 in September 2013. If Jones gets past the Swede for the second time, and does so in more convincing fashion, there are few contenders left in the division.
Jones has defeated the whose who at light heavyweight, including those currently ranked #1 (Gustafsson), #2 (Teixeira), #3 (Evans), #7 (Sonnen), #8 (Rua), #9 (Bader) and #13 (Belfort). On top of this, Belfort is currently ranked #2 at middleweight, a division in which Jones has defeated the #3 ranked Lyoto Machida, who fights for the 185lbs title in July. This is simply an incredible feat, especially at just 26, and there are simply too few valid contenders left for Jones to face.
A rematch with Gustafsson and fights with Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson – who looked far improved at UFC 172 – seem to be left for the champion. Dan Henderson could ruin hopes of a fight with Cormier, but that would take Hendo’s record to 2-3 in his last five coming into the fight with Jones (should it happen). #4 ranked Phil Davis lost to the aforementioned Johnson in a one-sided performance, and he will need to win at least three in a row to be in the title picture. Ovince St. Preux has improved in recent fights, but still needs to fight someone in the top ranks to be considered a threat to the division.
Now the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in present day, Jones is improving like no other and is – scarily – still some way off his prime. Some may not be convinced he is the greatest fighter of all time (yet), but it is hard to envisage him not becoming just that.