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UFC legend Randy Couture says Jon Jones’ outside-the-cage problems take him out of GOAT debate

When it comes to the popular opinion that Jon Jones is the greatest UFC fighter of all time, MMA legend Randy Couture believes his myriad problems away from the cage severely damage his case for that lofty spot.

Over his 15-year career competing inside the Octagon, Jon Jones has created a resume that is second to none. He has defeated former champions and fellow legends during a 22-fight run that only has one highly controversial defeat.

Related: Jon Jones next fight – ‘Bones’ faces the heavyweight GOAT in October at UFC 295

However, there are those who question some of his victories as well, after failing more than one drug test in the past. Furthermore, his multiple arrests, links to drug use, and domestic violence make it difficult for some fans to concede the UFC GOAT spot to the 36-year-old. One individual who has doubts about Jones as the best MMA fighter ever is former two-division UFC champion, and Olympic wrestling team alternate, Randy Couture.

The current Professional Fighters League analyst was recently asked by Sportsnaut about the upcoming heavyweight title fight between Jones and division great Stipe Miocic since he is a former titlist in the weight class. While giving his thoughts on the bout he also offered up an interesting opinion on “Bones'” place in the GOAT discourse.

“The whole GOAT conversation is such a subjective thing and there has to be criteria that include all the things that happen outside the cage, not just what you do in the cage, to be considered the GOAT,” Couture told Sportsnaut. “And I think some of the things that have gone on with Jon bring that into question in my mind. Arguably one of the most technically [and] athletically gifted fighters we’ve seen in the sport.

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“And you could say that about his wrestling too,” he continued. “And why did he end up in some of the places he ended up in wrestling and why wasn’t he at a Division I college? I know he visited a couple. What was going on that kept him from Division I college accolades as talented as he is as an athlete? The answer to those questions tells you all you need to know.”

Randy Couture unsure if Jon Jones can really dominate at heavyweight

jon jones, randy couture
Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Jones made his heavyweight debut in destructive fashion this past March, and in his main event matchup with Ciry Gane, he easily dispatched the former interim champion in just over two minutes. Sending a statement that he could be as dominant in his new division as he was at light heavyweight.

However, Couture isn’t so sure about his potential long-term. While he thinks Jones is a serious challenge for former champion Stipe Miocic next month, he believes the unanswered questions for “Bones” are more notable than potential ring rust issues for Miocic.

Related: UFC Heavyweight rankings – Jon Jones defends to spot at UFC 295

“Being in fight shape is something you have to maintain on a regular basis. And some of the younger guys make the mistake of these huge peaks and valleys between fights,” said Couture. “And that’s where a lot of injuries and things occur. There are some genuine questions there. Will there be some ring rust [for Miocic]? Will Stipe be able to get into top form, psychologically, as much as physically, and get himself back into that fight mode? I think he can. I think he’s a very diligent and smart man and has a great fight IQ.

“I think Jon Jones might actually have to use his wrestling for a change to stay in this fight because Stipe’s got some great wrestling and rarely have we seen Jones have to fight from his back and that has the potential to happen,” he continued. “Center of gravity changes and Jon’s put on a lot of weight. And I know from my own experience, at my heaviest I was 233 and I felt it was easier to be rolled over as I got heavier. I felt slower, more sluggish. And even though I was fighting heavyweights I think it hindered me. I was better at 220. So it’s going to be interesting to see how Jones does.

Jones vs. Miocic will headline UFC 295 on Nov. 11 inside New York’s Madison Square Garden.

In the full chat, Couture also spoke about the big changes in the PFL over the last five seasons, their impressive growth in that time, and being on the radar of UFC President Dana White.