There will always be much dispute and criticism when evaluating the world's top pound-for-pound mixed martial artists. The three fighters at the top of the heap are currently Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, and the man fresh off his seventh title defense at UFC 154, Georges St-Pierre.
Each fighter has his own strength and weakness when they step into the Octagon, but the debate always continues and every fan has their own perspective.
In each slide, I will break down each of the top three champions and let you determine who is the best of the best.
With that being said, as in the famous words of Mike Goldberg, "Here we go."
Dana White has said multiple times that Anderson Silva is the best fighter in the world. Many fans would agree with that assessment and it is hard to devalue what Anderson has done while fighting under the UFC banner, because at times he has looked untouchable.
A simple breakdown of Anderson in the UFC would be as follows:
- A perfect 16-0 UFC record
- Overall record of 33-4
- 10 consecutive middleweight title defenses
- 3-0 record in the light heavyweight division
- Current Age: 37
A more adept breakdown looks like this.
- Average Fight Time per Title Defense: 12:02
- Title Defenses Ended with a Finish and Finishing Percentage: 7 (70% Finish Percentage)
- Average age of opponent at time of title defenses: 31.7
- Overall record of opponents prior to title defenses: 207-54-5 (77.8% winning percentage)
- Opponents' record after title fight with Silva: 41-27 (60.2% winning percentage)
- Opponents' UFC record after title fight with Silva: 20-19 (51.2% winning percentage)
- Opponents' cut or released after fighting Silva for title: 3 (not including Dan Henderson)
- Average UFC Fight Time at Middleweight: 10:58
- Middleweight UFC Fights with a Finish and Finishing Percentage: 10 (77% Finish Percentage)
- Average UFC Fight Time at Light Heavyweight: 3:01
- Light Heavyweight UFC Fights with a Finish and Finishing Percentage: 3 (100% Finish Percentage)
- Total UFC Record of Opponents: 114-70 (61.9% UFC winning percentage)
- Total UFC Record of Middleweight Opponents: 92-53 (63.4% UFC winning percentage)
- Total UFC Record of Light Heavyweight Opponents: 22-17 (56.4% UFC winning percentage)
- Significant Strike Accuracy: 67.8% (First All-Time)
- Striking Defense: 63%
- Takedown Accuracy: 78% (doesn't meet requirements to rank)
- Takedown Defense: 70%
It is obvious from the statistics that Anderson's biggest strength is his ability to finish fights. He has pinpoint accurate strikes and has the best stand up striking skills in the UFC. He is also flashy and confident which is very crowd pleasing at times.
He has also fought at light heavyweight but his opponents were vastly over matched and tailor made for his fighting style. Anderson also ranks first in knockdowns at 17.
His weakness is also obvious as it has been shown to be wrestlers that can hold him down and control him. He has also shown an ability to throw up some dud fights in the past.
One in particular came against Demian Maia in which Dana White criticized Anderson so harshly that he threatened his job if it happened again. Another weakness may be his cockiness where he dances around with his hands down and doesn't appear fully ready.
Anderson also has the weakest list of quality opponents which makes his finish ratio and quality win total come into serious question even though many of his loyalists will dispute this fact. Then we have Travis Lutter, who was also supposed to have a title shot but missed weight so he was not included. Lutter would have dropped almost every percentage if he was added in, including another fighter being cut or released.
Key UFC victories: Dan Henderson and Rich Franklin were at the top of their games. I'm inclined to include Vitor Belfort but he did have a year and a half layoff prior to his fight with Silva and was far past his best days.
Key UFC losses: none
Jon Jones has risen to the forefront of the mixed martial arts pound-for-pound rankings and has done so at a very young age. Jones now sits as the king of light heavyweights with an iron fist and it looks as if his reign will last as long as he desires it to.
A simple breakdown of Jones in the UFC would be as follows.
- UFC record of 11-1
- Overall record of 17-1
- 4 consecutive light heavyweight title defenses
- Current Age: 25
A more adept breakdown looks like this.
- Average Fight Time per Title Defense: 16:25
- Title Defenses Ended with a Finish and Finishing Percentage: 3 (75% Finish Percentage)
- Average age of opponent at time of title defenses: 33.25
- Overall record of opponents prior to title defenses: 87-20-1 (80.5% winning percentage)
- Opponents' record after title fight with Jones: 1-6 (14.2% winning percentage)
- Opponents' UFC record after title fight with Jones: 1-6 (14.2% winning percentage)
- Opponents' cut or released after fighting Jones for title: 0
- Average UFC Fight Time at Light Heavyweight (Wins Only): 12:33
- Light Heavyweight UFC Fights with a Finish and Finishing Percentage: 8 (66% Finish Percentage)
- Total UFC Record of Opponents: 88-48-2 (63.7% UFC winning percentage)
- Striking Accuracy: 52%
- Striking Defense: 67%
- Takedown Accuracy: 63.9% (Sixth All-Time)
- Takedown Defense: 100% (doesn't meet requirements to rank)
It is still the early stages in Jones' career, but he has proven to be very effective against a list of very quality names.
Jones' biggest strength is his physical attributes which are multiplied by a good wrestling game and improving striking. No one can match his 84.5" reach which is coupled with his 6'4" frame. Takedowns are almost impossible to secure and striking has proven difficult due to the massive amount of distance one has to cover in order to touch Jones.
Jones' biggest weakness is his lack of knockout power. He is accredited with (3) wins by KO/TKO while in the UFC but those have all come while his opponent was grounded. It will also be interesting to see if he can sustain a real battle with a gritty opponent who can actually test his heart and chin.
Jones has also been pondering a move to the heavyweight division in the future where the opponents will not be as effected by his weaker punches and his physical attributes will be far less superior. Jones would be best suited to stay at light heavyweight for as long as possible.
Key UFC Victories: Lyoto Machida, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
Key UFC Losses: Matt "the Hammer" Hamill would be obvious but I do not think anyone counts this against him, and neither do I.
Georges St-Pierre has overcome yet another obstacle in his career only to return as better than before. After dismantling the UFC interim welterweight champion, Carlos Condit, to unify the welterweight championship, the man simply known as GSP has again cemented himself as a top candidate for pound-for-pound champion.
A simple breakdown of GSP in the UFC would be as follows.
- A UFC record of 17-2
- Overall record of 23-2
- 7 consecutive welterweight title defenses
- Current age: 31
A more adept breakdown looks like this.
- Average Fight Time per Title Defense (Wins Only): 24:28
- Title Defenses Ended with a Finish and Finishing Percentage: 1 (14% Finish Percentage)
- Average age of opponent at time of title defenses: 28.42
- Overall record of opponents prior to title defenses:140-30-2 (81.4% winning percentage)
- Opponents' record after title fight with GSP: 16-16-2 (47% winning percentage)
- Opponents' UFC record after title fight with GSP: 16-16-2 (47% winning percentage)
- Opponents' cut or released after fighting GSP for title: 0
- Average UFC Fight Time at Welterweight (Wins Only): 14:07
- Welterweight UFC Fights with a Finish and Finishing Percentage: 8 (42% Finish Percentage)
- Total UFC Record of Opponents (Without Rematches): 108-62-4 (62% UFC winning percentage)
- Striking Accuracy: 54%
- Striking Defense: 75.6% (second all-time)
- Takedown Accuracy: 78.1% (first all-time)
- Takedown Defense: 88% (third all-time)
GSP's biggest strength is his desire to be the best. Basically whatever you can do, GSP will train and become better at it. He is constantly improving his skill set and has made his opponents look like novices inside of the octagon barely losing a single round, let alone a fight.
His athleticism sets him apart from his opponents as he can swiftly secure a takedown or punish you with unanswered stand up. He now owns the record for consecutive welterweight title defenses and is tied with Matt Hughes for total title defenses at welterweight. GSP has also landed the most significant strikes in the history of MMA.
GSP's biggest weakness would have to labelled as luck. As for his personal weakness, his lack of finishes recently have shown to be a cosmetic problem because he has dominated in all of his wins. No one has a blueprint on how to beat GSP. He has defeated every type of fighter and the only opponents that have defeated him have been made to look silly in their rematches, proving to be quite the enigma.
Wrestling cannot take him down. Striking cannot connect enough with him. Submission specialists cannot catch him. Larger fighters can't seem to solve the riddle of St-Pierre. Prodigies, Pit Bulls, Muscle Sharks, and Natural Born Killers haven't been able stop GSP. To beat GSP, history has shown that you have to get lucky.
Key UFC wins: Matt Hughes (x2), BJ Penn (x2), Sean Sherk, Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck (x2), Matt Serra, Jake Shields, Carlos Condit.
Key UFC losses: Matt Serra and Matt Hughes. GSP avenged his only career losses in dominating fashion. Against Matt Serra he earned a second-round TKO finish. He avenged his loss against Matt Hughes on two occasions with a second-round TKO and a second-round submission victory.
So who is it going to be?
Anderson Silva has proven that striking can take you to the very top if you are that good. He has shown chinks in his armor, but no one has yet to pierce that armor far enough to defeat him. He has pulled out victory from the brink of defeat and has battered opponents when they exchange with him.
I believe his downfall is that his division is the weakest of the three and has had the path of least resistance to the top. He may not be the best well-rounded fighter, but he isn't losing either. Silva commands respect in the Octagon because he can end a fight with a well placed strike with either a kick, knee, or punch.
Another hidden statistic is if you add in who was cut to who changed weight classes, only two fighters remained at middleweight after fighting Silva which would be Cote and Okami.
When we talk about the middleweight division, it seems like the UFC is always searching for new bodies as the competition level just isn't there. The middleweight division is easily one of the weakest divisions in the UFC.
Jon Jones has shown that his skills coupled with his physical attributes can make an almost invincible opponent thus far. It doesn't seem anyone in his division can secure a takedown or land more than one decent punch upon him.
On the other hand, Jones has been able to do whatever he has wanted inside of the Octagon including the incorporation of some unusual offensive attacks and brutal elbow strikes.
Added to the fact that his division doesn't have much to offer him, he could reign as champion for quite some time due to the fact that he climbed the ladder and has already defeated most top contenders.
He has squared off against some aging fighters that have been on the decline and his upcoming opponent in Chael Sonnen only adds to the combined age total.
Then you could add Dan Henderson if he can secure a title fight which again will add to the combined age total. Jones is in the right place at the perfect time where he can add big names to his resume.
Georges St-Pierre has shown how well rounded a fighter can be in every aspect of the game. He can defeat your weaknesses and he is one of if not the only fighter that can defeat your strengths. The only problem I see with GSP is his inability to secure the finish.
Though he fully and utterly embarrasses his opponent, fans will always criticize him for not putting his opponent away. Some might say that the Matt Serra loss was the worst thing to happen to him, I on the other hand think it has made him a more aware and better fighter.
I believe also that GSP has easily had the toughest set of opponents yet none have come even close to matching him inside of the octagon and almost every opponent he has fought was at their prime when GSP fought them.
Like I said in the previous slide, no one has discovered a weakness or a game plan to defeat GSP. As for his division, it always seems that he is one or two steps from cleaning out the welterweights, but it has proven to be one of the deepest divisions in the UFC.
Let's hear your opinion!