With a dominant submission victory over Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 135, many have been quick to anoint Jon Jones as the best fighter in the world, ready for a superfight with Anderson Silva and a jump to heavyweight.
Not so fast.
Talented though Jones is—and there's no "bones" about it, Jones is an incredibly gifted fighter—it's important to maintain perspective and perhaps even exercise some self-control when discussing the young champion.
Jones still has a long way to go before deserving the title of MMA king.
Let me be very clear: I believe Jones has what it takes to be considered the very best fighter in the world. He is blessed with the gift of an 84.5" reach, has fantastic athleticism and is a quick learner and a hard worker. He walks into the cage calm, cool and collected, has a game plan and ruthlessly executes.
Jones has entered the UFC Octagon nine times without ever truly losing. He defeated the legendary Mauricio "Shogun" Rua for the light heavyweight championship and defended his belt against a motivated, in-shape legend in "Rampage" Jackson.
Still, it's too early to deem this the "era" of Jones.
What then, you ask, does he need to do to before we can discuss superfights and a move to heavyweight or crown him the "Greatest of All Time?"
Five more successful title defenses would be a good start, though eight defenses, all of them finishes, would be ideal.
You guessed it. That would put Jones on the same level as Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva, the only two current UFC champions to have earned their own "eras." Few people doubt that Jones can achieve such levels of greatness, but the fact remains that he has not yet done it.
Let's also not ignore the challenges that remain in the light heavyweight division. Rashad Evans, Rua, Dan Henderson, Lyoto Machida, Phil Davis and Alexander Gustafsson are all currently deserving of (or on the cusp of deserving) a title shot. Until Jones defeats these challengers, superfights and heavyweights have to wait.
My point is this: It's not enough in sports to simply have the ability to perform. You have to go out and perform up to, and beyond, the highest bar. You have to prove that there are no legitimate challengers left for you in your weight class. Pundits and fans can't decide that; it has to be seen in action.
As far as ability and skill go, Jones very well may already be the best fighter in MMA today. Now he just needs the achievements to go along with them.
I happily sing the praises of Jon Jones and will continue to do so. But until he successfully sits upon the light heavyweight throne long enough to clear out the division, I'm not ready to call him king.