Spoiler: Jon Jones already is the greatest light heavyweight of all time.
In the pantheon of the 205-pound division there are four other names that rise to the top: Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Tito Oritz and Wanderlei Silva. Jones has surpassed them all at the tender age of 25.
Legacies are built in championship fights. No other light heavyweight enters the discussion in this regard.
Couture's legacy is not built solely on the light heavyweight division. His legacy is about finding success between the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. While it is impressive, it eliminates him from the discussion based solely on the 205-pound division.
Liddell and Silva both suffer from the same questions about strength of competition. Undoubtedly both men were incredible fighters in their day, but both had questionable title defenses. Do wins over Kiyoshi Tamura, Hiromitsu Kanehara or Jeremy Horn hold a lot of weight? No.
That leaves Ortiz as Jones' biggest competition, since Ortiz is the holder of the UFC record for light heavyweight title defenses. Much like Liddell and Silva the level of competition is questionable. However, it was a different time way back at the turn of the 21st century.
Now look at Jones and see what he has accomplished in his short UFC career.
He dominated Stephan Bonnar at UFC 94, submitted Jake O'Brien at UFC 100 and was on the wrong end of a unfortunate DQ when he destroyed Matt Hamill.
After the performance against Hamill he was given a few more tests before going for the gold. All were dominant performances.
At UFC 128, six weeks after choking out previously undefeated Ryan Bader, he stepped in against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for a shot at the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. Questions if he was ready for the spotlight arose, and were quickly wiped away with one of the most systematic dismantlings in title fight history.
The “Bones Era” had officially begun.
He has already defended the championship three times. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans have had little to nothing to offer the young champion. From Ryan Bader to Rashad Evans those five fights, five impressive and dominant wins, all took place over the course of one calendar year.
His dynamic skill set is ahead of the historic field. He is multi-dimensional, athletic and only becoming more dangerous as he matures. When Jones meets Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 he will defend his title for the fourth time, tying Liddell for second all-time. That puts Ortiz's record in Jones' crosshairs.
No one has faced the quality of competition in consecutive fights that Jones has fought inside the cage. Jones' talent and astonishing performances skyrocketed him past every other light heavyweight in history.
Others may hold more importance to growth of the division and the sport in general, but based on talent and performance no one holds a candle to Jones.
The 25-year-old talent will only begin to put distance between himself and everyone else. When trying to describe him one begins to run out of superlatives. Jones is that good.
He is the greatest light heavyweight ever.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!