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Jon Jones: Future Greatest of All Time?

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(UFC-140:-Weigh In)
(UFC 140 Weigh in, Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Jon “Bones” Jones (20-1) has a deceiving record.  If an uninformed person looks at it, they will likely think “That is a good record.  The guy who beat him must have been good.”  The truth is, no one has beaten Jon Jones in the octagon.

Jones’ one career blemish is a disqualification loss at the hands of Matt Hamill (11-5) in a fight Jones was dominating.  What should have been a TKO win for Jones ended up being a DQ loss after his downward elbows were ruled illegal.   20-1 is a great record, but 21-0 is even better, and should be the record that fans recognize.  Years after Jones retires and is inducted into the Hall of Fame, Hamill will be just a footnote of a storied career.

I will freely admit that I do not like the image Jon Jones puts out to the public.  I have never met him, so I cannot say I do not like him, but I do not like how he portrays himself.  I lost $20 to a friend when I bet on Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (22-9) to defeat Jones and retain the UFC light heavyweight (205) belt.  That was the last time I will bet against Jones.

Jones-Rua was one of the most one-sided title fights in UFC history.  Shogun was destroyed on the feet and eventually tapped to strikes in the third round after taking severe punishment.  This made Jones the youngest champion in UFC history at just 23.  This was Jones’ coming out party.  Defeating a Pride Fighting Championships legend like Shogun in his 14th fight as a professional was an impressive feat, but what followed was even better.

Since becoming champion, Jones has destroyed other Pride stars like Quenton “Rampage” Jackson (35-11) and Vitor Belfort (24-10).  Part of the hate the champion receives comes from victories like this, where Jones has outclassed longtime fan favorites.  UFC stars like Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (21-5), Rashad Evans (19-3-1), Chael Sonnen (28-14-1), and Glover Teixeira (22-3) have been no match for the long-limbed Jones, who possesses an 84″ reach that he uses very effectively.  Jones has defended his light heavyweight belt a record 7 times thus far.  Eye pokes or not, Jones has been able to beat most of his opponents with ease.  Only one fighter has been able to be competitive with the champ.

Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson (16-2) dropped a decision to Jones, but gave him hell in the process.  After 5 rounds of action, Jones looked like he was more damaged than his foe, as he sported a bad near his left eye and a very swollen top lip.  Gustafsson, who is not known for grappling, was able to take Jones down for the first time in the UFC.  Many fans, myself included, felt the Mauler had done enough to win the fight.  Even if he has been given the win officially, this does not diminish the legacy of Jones much at all.

Every fighter loses at some point in their career.  No matter how great a fighter is, remaining undefeated is a difficult task, especially as the body begins to break down with age.  Gustafsson may be the Joe Frazier (32-4-1, 27 KO) to Jones’ Muhammad Ali (56-5, 37 KO), or vice versa.  Every great fighter has at least one rival who brings out their true greatness, and these two bring out each other’s strengths.  The man often considered the greatest in the history of mixed martial arts, Anderson “The Spider” Silva (33-6), had Chael Sonnen push him to the brink in their first fight and give him trouble in their second.  Georges St. Pierre (25-2), who most observers say is the best welterweight (170) of all time, had great rivalries with Matt Serra (11-7) and Matt Hughes (45-9), the men who gave him his 2 losses.  Jon has a long way to go before he surpasses Silva or St. Pierre, but he is certainly on the right track.

Bones will probably never have the level of popularity that “GSP” has with fans.  He may not develop the unique aura Silva had for years.  Jones is carving out his own legacy, and those who refuse to acknowledge his talent are doing themselves a disservice as fans of the sport.  Jones has a legitimate chance of becoming the greatest fighter in the history of the UFC, and we as fans should be able to appreciate the level of raw talent he brings to the octagon in every fight.  Hate him if you must, but never undervalue this “once-in-a-generation” fighter.

Is Jones Overrated? Underrated? Give us your thoughts.