LAS VEGAS -- Is Jon Jones the greatest of all time?
It is the question of the hour in mixed martial arts, after Jones (21-1) officially handed Daniel Cormier (15-1) his first professional loss at UFC 182 this weekend.
Jones, 27, ranks third all time in the UFC in consecutive title defenses (eight) -- two shy of former middleweight champion Anderson Silva's record (10). He became the youngest champion in UFC history when he won the title in 2011 at age 23. He has defeated five former UFC champions.
Here's my take on Jones as the GOAT in mixed martial arts: There can be a difference between the "best of all time" and the "greatest of all time."
In my book, Jones has established himself as the best fighter to ever live. Pound-for-pound, Jones, right now, bests any fighter in his respective prime.
The term "greatest of all time" can mean something slightly different, though. Even that word -- greatest -- is typically associated with Muhammad Ali, and it's symbolized something more than just a record. It has to do with the era one fought in, the way in which one won, the adversity that was overcome, the longevity, etc. For me, the greatest of all time is still Silva.
I believe that's what UFC president Dana White is referring to when he admits he struggles to call Jones the greatest of all time because he is still young.
Jones' body of work is incredible, but to be considered the "greatest ever" ... I don't think it's even possible to accomplish that feat in a seven-year career.
"It's so hard for me because Jon Jones is so young and he has many more things to accomplish," White said. "But he's beat the who's who and cleaned out the division. He's breaking records and if this continues, yeah -- probably the greatest ever."
Jones has openly admitted he hasn't even taken this sport as seriously as possible yet, casually training in between fights as opposed to seriously improving year-round. One of his striking coaches, Brandon Gibson, is ecstatic Jones is moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico, from New York this year to be at Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA year-round. Gibson guesses Jones is about "30 percent" of what he could ultimately be.
On Saturday, Jones said he believes he can establish himself as the greatest of all time in the 2015 calendar year. Prior to the fight, he had mentioned "finishing his race" in an interview with ESPN.com, stating he wished to decisively beat Alexander Gustafsson in a rematch (the two fought a close fight in 2013) and then move to heavyweight. He stated this weekend he would fight UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez "in a heartbeat."
"With all due respect, I believe I've had the toughest résumé in the history of this sport," Jones said. "I've fought so many amazing athletes. So many times, people thought I was going to lose. I will give Anderson and Georges [St-Pierre] being above me. I think that attitude will keep me honest, determined and driven. I will keep that psychology until it can't be argued anymore."
It's an outstanding attitude to have and it makes Jones' career that much more interesting moving forward, as if it weren't enough already.
And really, if Jones is to be the greatest of all time, his goal should be to do so to the point "it can't be argued." He's not there yet -- but he's definitely on the right path.
With that, here are the grades from UFC 182.