UFC 145: Where Does Jon Jones Rank Among the Light-Heavyweight Greats?
The light-heavyweight division was a bit of an anomaly in the UFC in recent years. Other divisions saw their title-holders have long reigns, while the light-heavyweight belt seemed to always be in flux due to the depth of depth of talent in this weight class.
Light heavyweight is in many ways the premier division. It's home to many of the sport's biggest stars, and for good reason. Lighter weight classes tend to have more action, but the fighters have less power. Heavyweights are stronger, but their size means that they get tired more easily.
5. Lyoto Machida
Machida took the UFC by storm, much like Jon Jones. He racked up eight straight wins on the way to winning the belt. He was picky with his strikes and wasn't action all the time. However, when he unleashed his attack, it was nothing short of ferocious. He'll always be remembered for his highlight-reel KO of Randy Couture.
Although he's lost three of his last four fights, let's take a look at those losses: A KO loss to "Shogun" Rua, a split-decision loss to "Rampage" Jackson and a submission loss to current champ Jon Jones. That doesn't look all too bad to me.
Today, he's one of the few fighters who poses a serious threat to the division because of his unique skill-set. Machida's karate-influenced attack sets him apart from the other wrestling, boxing and muay thai-based fighters.
4. Tito Ortiz
Tito Ortiz is infamous for his feuds with Ken Shamrock and Chuck Liddell. Love him or hate him, charisma isn't something "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" is in short supply of.
He wasn't too shabby a fighter either—he beat Wanderlei Silva to win the belt way back at UFC 25 and then went on to successfully defend it five times.
Though wins have been hard to come by in the past few years, Ortiz has never shied away from competition. He has six losses, a win and a draw in his last eight fights, but check out some of the names on that list: Rogerio Noguiera, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida and Forrest Griffin.
3. Randy Couture
"The Natural" is perhaps the UFC's most beloved fighter. He defied Father Time by winning the heavyweight title at the age of 43. He's a multiple light-heavyweight and heavyweight champion.
He's a fan favorite not only because of the class and humility he exudes, but also because of the toughness he shows in his fights. If the UFC ever needed a role model, this is the guy.
The reason he sits in third on this list is because he lost two title fights (both by KO) to the next fighter.
2. Chuck Liddell
For a period in time, Chuck Liddell was the face of the UFC. Heck, to many people he was the face of MMA. With his signature mohawk and knockouts, "The Iceman" defined the sport.
His reign at the top was the second-longest, behind Tito Ortiz. He's faced and defeated some of the toughest fighters in the sport, such as Ortiz, Randy Couture and Vitor Belfort.
Although his decline was rapid, much like Wanderlei Silva's (who's not on this list because the weight class of 205 pounds and below in PRIDE was called middleweight), he'll always be remembered as one of the UFC's most iconic fighters.
1. Jon Jones
It's early, yes. But the kid simply looks unstoppable. Every champ looks unstoppable when they're in their prime, but I don't see him losing any time soon. He's accomplished this much, and he's only 24 years old.
In his last four fights, he has faced four former champs and handily beaten every single one of them while taking minimal damage. Machida is the only one to even test him, and that can be attributed to his elusive karate style.
I have no doubt in mind that Jones will not only hold the title for years to come, but that he could've beaten any of the other light-heavyweight greats in their prime. He's a new generation of fighter.
Until someone with a radically different skill-set or advantage comes along, he'll remain the champ and go down in history as one of the greats.
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