A case for Jones as G.O.A.T.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

There is a consensus forming that UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson may well be the Greatest of All Time in mixed martial arts. However, in his latest article for Yahoo Sports, Kevin Iole argues that Johnson cannot be considered the G.O.A.T. due to his level of competition, and offers Jon Jones opposition in contrast.

Consider the six-fight stretch he had when he went 6-0 with four submissions and a TKO from Feb. 5, 2011, through Sept. 22, 2012.

There may never have been a 19-month period for a fighter like it in MMA history. In a bout that guaranteed the winner a title shot, Jones submitted 12-0 Ryan Bader with a guillotine in the second round.

Five weeks later, he mauled Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, stopping him in the third round after a brutal beating to win the light heavyweight belt.

He then made successful title defenses against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans and Vitor Belfort. Rua was the current champion and Jackson, Machida, Evans and Belfort were former champs.

It’s logical to believe that Rua, Jackson, Evans and Belfort will make the UFC Hall of Fame, and it’s not out of the question that Machida makes it, as well.

Including Bader, those six fighters had a combined record of 118-24-1 at the time they fought Jones. That’s a winning percentage of 77.5 percent, yet Jones defeated them all, fairly easily.

That level of opposition is the one advantage Jones has over Johnson. Of Johnson’s opponents during his streak, only Joseph Benavidez seems certain to be in the Hall of Fame.

While Iole’s math is accurate, a look at how the fighters did after Jones tells a somewhat different story. Ryan Bader went 3-3 his next six after losing to Jones. Shogun went 3-3 his next six fights. Rampage went 4-2 his next six, but three of the wins were in Bellator. Machida went 4-2 his next six. Evans went 2-4 his next six. And Belfort went 4-2 his next six. So the fighters went into the fight with a combined record of 118-24-1, but they went 20-16 in their next half dozen fights.

By contrast, look at the post fight records of the men Johnson defeated in winning and defending his belt. Joseph Benavidez won the next six in a row. John Dodson went 4-2, and one of the losses was a rematch with Johnson. John Moraga went 3-1 before going into a decline and dropping three in a row. Kyoji Horiguchi went 4-0.

Still, the run of smashing Bader, Shogun, Rampage, Machida, Evans, and Belfort in 18 months may be the most impressive in MMA history, and added to the fact that Jones never lost via tapout, knockout, or decision, absolutely puts him on the short G.O.A.T. list with Fedor and Anderson Silva.