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Is Jon Jones really the best UFC fighter of all time?

Jason Burgos

Is Jon Jones the best UFC fighter of all time? It’s a fair question considering the unbelievable resume he has put together over his 14-year run in the promotion. He has toppled a who’s-who of light heavyweight champions, MMA legends, and many of the best competitors from a few generations of 205-pound cage fighters.

There is no athlete in the promotion’s storied history that really has a better case than Jones. The devil is in the details and there are many reasons why he is the greatest UFC fighter of all time. However, there are also grounds to believe his place as the UFC BOAT (best of all time) won’t last forever.

Hate it or love it, Jon Jones is the best UFC Fighter of all time

Unlike boxing, where a long run as an unbeaten talent separates the elite fighters from the rest, MMA is a different animal. There are many combatants in the history of MMA, and the UFC, that have quite a few losses on their record but will still go down as legendary figures in the industry. Nate Diaz, Urijah Faber, Robbie Lawler, and Donald Cerrone are a few examples.

However, those few UFC fighters that have fought at the top of the sport for years and avoided racking up losses are truly in a class of their own. That is why Jones is a one-of-a-kind talent in having just one loss on his record after 27 fights — 21 of those came inside the Octagon.

Jones’ lone defeat came via disqualification in a 2009 fight he was dominating. Unfortunately for him, some pretty questionable work by referee Steve Mazzagatti in his fight with Matt Hamill is the only thing that’s stopped “Bones” from being undefeated today.

To date, Jones has racked up 20 wins inside the Octagon, against some of the best light heavyweight fighters of all time. Eight of those 20 wins are against men that have held major MMA championships during their careers. Six of those individuals had UFC gold, and in five of those fights against championship-level competition “Bones” ended his foes night’s early.

Not only has he accumulated a record that is unheard of in the sport, and did so against luminaries of the time, but 71% of his Octagon appearances he had the added pressure of a UFC title being on the line.

Jones’ place on UFC GOAT mountain won’t last forever

best ufc fighter of all time
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

There was a time when men like Chuck Liddell, Anderson Silva, and Georges St-Pierre were called the greatest fighters of all time, and it seemed like that would never change. Until it did. Jones’ run at the top could be toppled sooner rather than later for several reasons.

Firstly, the former 205-pound champion has failed two USADA drug tests previously. In 2016 he tested positive for hydroxy-clomiphene and letrozole metabolite, then the next year for Turinabol. Despite his drug test failures and rampant rumors about performance enhancer use, his image as the best UFC fighter ever has endured.

However, if he were to fail a third time, he would likely become the Barry Bonds of the UFC and become a promotional pariah that will be forever disqualified from the GOAT conversation.

Since 2020, the 34-year-old has been slowly building up his body mass to make a move to the heavyweight division to become the sixth UFC fighter to win championships in two divisions. On paper, he is more than talented enough to achieve that goal. Although, if he were to fail it would strengthen the case for St-Pierre as the true UFC GOAT. Since he was able to become a two-division titlist and has only one more defeat than Jones in the UFC.

Also, if current champions like Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya were to continue their dominance in the sport, and add champ-champ to their resume, they could move up in the pecking order and surpass Jones in the best ever discourse.