When the dust settled from Anderson Silva's knockout loss at UFC 162, the MMA world was forced to find a new king. Though the abdication of the throne was unceremonious, it's sparked quite the debate.
Is the young and hungry Jon Jones or the methodical and intelligent Georges St-Pierre the new pound-for-pound top fighter in the world?
While Jones has been awarded the No. 1 spot, according to ESPN Power Rankings, a solid argument can be made for St-Pierre. GSP has more UFC victories, more title defenses and easily holds the record for most significant strikes landed in the UFC.
The consensus among martial arts fans is that Jones is the No. 1 fighter in the world, and even UFC President Dana White was quoted in Damon Martin of Bleacher Report's article as saying simply, "Jon Jones," when asked who should be the P4P best. Jones may have more finishes, but wins are wins.
"Bones" holds a record of 12-1 in his 13 UFC fights, with his only loss coming from a controversial disqualification loss to Matt Hamill. Of those 12 victories, nine of them were finishes, including five submissions and four knockouts.
It's clear that Jones is a more exciting fighter at this point in his career, but the numbers for GSP speak volumes. St-Pierre has appeared in 20 UFC fights with a record of 18-2.
GSP has only six finishes in those 20 fights, but in the fight game, wins are wins. Jones, six years the junior of St-Pierre, has finished far more fights. But GSP has put in his time and, despite claims that he is a boring fighter, has gotten his hand raised almost every time he's stepped into the Octagon.
In other sports, an athlete's legacy is ultimately defined by the number of titles he or she has amassed in a career. And MMA is no different.
Jones is 6-0 in title fights in his UFC career and has defended the belt five times since annihilating Mauricio Shogun Rua at UFC 128 to claim the light heavyweight title. His five defenses has the young Bones tied for most in light heavyweight history, but St-Pierre's record rivals Silva's.
GSP has appeared in 15 UFC title fights in his career, accumulating an 11-2 record in that time. His two losses at the hands of Matt Hughes and Matt Serra have been avenged, and he is currently riding an eight-fight title defense streak, which is two less than Silva's record.
It can certainly be argued that Jones' 75 percent finish rate and quality of opponents is superior to that of GSP and therefore should make him the obvious choice for P4P king, but if doing damage is the issue, fans aren't paying attention.
St-Pierre has earned the boring label in recent fights for his methodical lay-and-pray style he uses to control opponents and earn decision victories. But he does much more damage than you think.
GSP holds the UFC record for most significant strikes landed with 1153, which is 206 more than the next fighter on the list: Michael Bisping. His strike differential rate is slightly higher than Jones at 2.53 to 2.50, for those who logically argue that more fights equals more shots landed.
All in all, St-Pierre has earned the right to be called the P4P best fighter in the world. And the statistics justify it 100 percent.
Jones may have more finishes, but GSP has accumulated more UFC victories and is closing in on the record for most UFC title defenses. You may think he's boring, but in the midst of simply lying on opponents, he does more significant damage than any other fighter in the UFC, period.
In all honesty, if I had to choose a fighter to build a company around, it would be Jones. He is unorthodox, relentless and seemingly gets better every round of every fight.
But Jones hasn't done enough to earn the No. 1 spot over St-Pierre. Not quite yet.
Some fans will call me crazy, and people close to me have called me foolish for taking GSP over Jones, but the proof is in the pudding. More wins, more defenses, more damage done.
With Silva relinquishing the throne, GSP should be the No. 1 fighter in the world until he loses a fight.
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