Whilst perennial UFC welterweight titlist Georges St-Pierre has been convalescing, the runaway train that is Jon Jones has been powering full steam ahead, just one stop short of the No. 1 pound-for-pound spot currently occupied by Anderson “The Spider” Silva.
Seriously, can anyone, MMA savant or otherwise, truly deny that the 205-pound champion “Bones” Jones has rightfully earned his place alongside Silva?
Through no fault of his own, “Rush” now finds himself on the outside looking in with regards the No. 2 pound-for-pound status—and depending on the outcome of his November date with Carlos Condit, he could altogether drop out of the top three.
If St-Pierre is the best-conditioned and most well-rounded fighter in mixed martial arts, then Jones is prototype for the sport's future combatants.
Jones’ real journey to the UFC summit began with a clinical dismantlement of Brandon Vera. Vladimir Matyushenko followed suit, and then came the soi-disant future of the 205-pound division's Ryan “Darth” Bader. He was no match for the phenom either and failed as he was destined to fail.
The same night an opportunity presented itself—a shot at UFC glory—an opportunity Jones snatched with both hands like a thief in the night.
At 23 he was crowned the youngest-ever champion in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship after systematically trouncing PRIDE legend Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
Jones followed his triumphant victory with three successive title defenses against former holders of the belt—Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida and “Suga” Rashad Evans.
He accomplished said feat in just over a year.
Jones (16-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) is now slated to defend his title for a fourth time at UFC 151 when he locks horns with another erstwhile champion (PRIDE and Strikeforce), in the mould of Dan Henderson.
If successful, the Endicott (N.Y.) native would’ve fought and defeated five former champions and too boot defended his title four times in the space of 18 months.
To add another feather to his cap, save for the Matt Hamill blemish, Jones in the grand scheme of things is undefeated in his professional career.
Astonishing comes to mind.
As intimated earlier, St-Pierre isn’t culpable for his misfortunes (lingering knee injury) which have kept him sidelined for over a year, but the fact remains his No. 2 slot has been supplanted by Jones until further notice.
It’s been over four years since the 31-year-old Canadian native recaptured the 170-pound belt, and from that period to the present, he’s amassed a record six title defenses in said weight class.
In addition St-Pierre (22-2 MMA, 16-2 UFC) has defeated some of the best MMA exponents and champions of his era.
This list includes: Sean Sherk, Matt Hughes (twice), B.J. Penn (twice), Josh Koscheck (twice), Jon Fitch and Jake Shields.
Give credit where credit is due.
However, in his second reign as champion, his performances against some of the aforementioned haven’t instilled the same sense of euphoria you’d witness at a Jones fight fest—to date St-Pierre has scored two stoppages in seven outings.
Don’t get me wrong, St-Pierre is an absolute clinic physician, as was evidenced by Koscheck’s near-fatal eye injury. Nevertheless, more times than not, he’s fails to throw caution to wind, and at other times he hesitates when he has opponents at his mercy.
In contrast Jones is intent on finishing and doing it with both style and a ruthless streak.
UFC 69 was a turning point in the career of St-Pierre. The assumption is that Matt Serra stole his soul that night, and as a consequence GSP has never been the same fighter since.
The bottom line is this: Performance-wise St-Pierre has lost the oomph that was attributed to the Rush of old. Furthermore, add to the equation his long layoff, and it stands to reason that a case can’t be made for him to hold on to the second spot.
As things stand now, Jones has surpassed St-Pierre as the No. 2 fighter in the MMA stratosphere.