Jon Jones: Where Does He Stand Among All-Time Light Heavyweight Champions?

Hunter Homistek@HunterAHomistekCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2012

Jon Jones: Where Does He Stand Among All-Time Light Heavyweight Champions?

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    Don't call it a comeback, but Jon Jones certainly battled from the depths of adversity at UFC 152 as he made his fourth title defense.

    With the submission victory over Vitor Belfort, Jones is officially in the "best light heavyweight champion of all time" discussion.  There is no way to deny his dominance, and even though many fans felt he was already the greatest 205-pound fighter in UFC history, let us not forget the great warriors of yesteryear.

    Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture all symbolize greatness in different ways and have impacted the sport of mixed martial arts for the better.  Without these legends, the UFC that we know today would not exist, and fighters like Jones could never show off their skill sets on such a large stage. 

    With that in mind, how do the light heavyweight greats stack up, and just where does Jones fit into the equation?

    Start the slideshow to find out.

No. 5: Randy Couture

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    The fact that "The Natural" can ride a bull does not surprise me in the least; he has been riding dudes all over the Octagon for years (we'll just not talk about how that sounded).

    Couture penned his name early and often in the UFC's history books, but as a light heavyweight, he could never really find his groove. 

    After winning the interim light heavyweight championship by scoring a technical knockout over Chuck Liddell, Couture unified the belts for good with a five-round shellacking of longtime champ Tito Ortiz.

    However, a fluke cut in his first official title defense against Vitor Belfort would cause him to lose the belt shortly thereafter.

    While Couture did win the belt back from Belfort in an immediate rematch, he would go on to surrender it to Chuck Liddell in his next outing.  After defeating Mike van Arsdale at UFC 54, Couture was granted another shot at Liddell's championship belt, but he would again achieve only runner-up status.  

    In short, "The Natural" was always a professional, prepared champion, but he could never assemble a streak that truly exemplified his dominance inside the Octagon.  For that, he kicks off our list at No. 5.

No. 4: Chuck Liddell

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    From April 2005 to December 2006, UFC superstar Chuck Liddell had one of the most awesome championship runs in company history.

    "The Iceman" took the belt from Randy Couture at UFC 52 and continued to smash his way through the light heavyweight division to the tune of four title defenses, all by knockout.

    Beating four people in a row by knockout is impressive, but when you consider he was defeating the top contender in his division on each occasion so soundly, Liddell's dominance becomes clear.

    Unfortunately, he lost the belt in May 2007 thanks to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson's boxing superiority and could never regain his form of old. 

    While he may have faded in a fashion that was among the most brutally difficult to watch in UFC history, Liddell remains one of the greatest light heavyweight champions of all time. 

No. 3: Tito Ortiz

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    How can the man with the UFC record for light heavyweight title defenses be No. 3 on this list, you might ask?

    I guess you will just have to stick around and see.

    Ortiz's run after capturing the light heavyweight championship in April 2000 was sensational: he defeated Wanderlei Silva, Yuki Kondo, Evan Tanner, Elvis Sinosic, Vladimir Matyushenko and Ken Shamrock without ever really being challenged, and that deserves mention. 

    What also deserves mention, however, is the fact that he failed to finish both Silva and Matyushenko.  While this is nothing to be ashamed of by any means, the fact remains that Ortiz couldn't steamroll his opponents like the next guy on this list. 

    Ortiz was the man for an extraordinary stretch of time, but there were still two guys who did what he did, only better.

    Click on, my friends.

No. 2: Frank Shamrock

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    Yes, I just put Frank Shamrock ahead of Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz on a list of the greatest light heavyweight champions. 

    Sue me (actually, don't...please). 

    While I understand the controversy here, I fully believe that if Dana White did not have such a strong distaste for Shamrock, modern UFC fans would hear about him as the legend he truly was rather than the villain White likes him to be.

    At UFC Japan in December 1997, the UFC crowned Shamrock as its middleweight champion (which was later renamed to light heavyweight) after he brutalized Kevin Jackson via armbar in just 16 seconds.

    After that victory, Shamrock went on to defend his title four times before inexplicably retiring on top of his game.  In that stretch of four fights, Shamrock defeated submission specialist Jeremy Horn by kneebar and ground-and-pound specialist Tito Ortiz via—you guessed it—ground and pound.

    Along with this, he literally slammed Igor Zinoviev into retirement in what is one of the most disgusting knockouts you never see (until now).  The slam broke Zinoviev's collarbone and fractured his C5 vertebrae, causing him to retire from MMA forever.

    Think about all this: Shamrock was beating the best guys at their own games and finishing people so viciously that they were forced to retire. If somebody was doing that today, you better believe we would be hearing about it. 

    His run was incredible, and the fact that it never truly ended is enough for me to give him the No. 2 spot. 

No. 1: Jon Jones

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    You're shocked, I know.

    With so many articles floating around talking about how Jon Jones is the greatest light heavyweight of all time, I do not feel I need to qualify this choice. 

    He just is.

    Love him or hate him, Jon Jones has lined up and defeated legend after legend, and better yet, he has done this in a time where mixed martial arts is as big as ever and people are training harder than ever before. 

    None of the other fighters on this list could come close to running the same gauntlet Jones has, and he strolled through this daunting task with ease. 

    The man is a beast; there is just no other way around it.