The claims are now that Jon Jones has cemented his place as ‘the greatest fighter of all time’ which is of course, not true. Being the champion of the two weakest men’s divisions, doesn’t make you the greatest. Nor does holding a title after beating one fighter in a heavier division does not make you the best of all time. Jones would have to truly dominate the heavyweight division in order to do that, which is unlikely, but we’ll talk about that more later.
So, how did he do it?
This fight was weird. As we saw former Muay Thai fighter with a win over top heavyweight Yassine Boughanem seemingly have no real answer for a step up low kick. While Jon Jones accidentally crouching into a low kick as he went for a jab, Cyril Gane behaved weirdly even standing. He wasn’t shut down so much as he just didn’t perform. It appeared as though Gane was just trying to figure out Jones’ striking, as he kept making Jones miss but wasn’t yet at the stage of following up with counter strikes.
Jon Jones was in a very similar situation to this earlier in his career against Lyoto Machida who absolutely shellacked him with some counter strikes, before Jones finally switched tactics and amusingly enough, picked up a guillotine win, the exact thing that Jones would do in the first round of this fight.
It’s easy to imagine that Jones simply got Machida flashbacks and recognised the same strategy coming from a much mower powerful hitter, and just shifted gears sooner. Jones would duck in on a takedown and after a quick mat return got Gane into a seated position, before working a guillotine that in all honestly wouldn’t have worked the majority of the time, but Gane simply doesn’t have the grappling capabilities to go against Jones.
This is actually a refreshing change of pace for Jon Jones, as he has often been in the awkward position of always fighting his opponents fight, and not really being able to force his gameplan onto his opponents. This would have cost him in his two most recent fights, had the judges not been looking at their phones. So to see Jones actually immediately recognise that he is not going to be able to land on the feet, and switch up, is a simple thing, but something it’s a relief to see him do again.
What else happened?
Valentina Shevchenko finally lost. Shevchenko has been in a weird place where she was clearly better than her opponents, but rarely ever could put them away. She also had this habit of attempting to style on her opponents with spinning kicks that would rarely actually do any damage, because she was usually not actually in the proper range before throwing them.
After a gritty fight against Alexa Grasso, who was comfortable to wrestle with Shevchenko, wear her down and bite down on the mouth piece and strike in the pocket with her – Shevchenko once again threw her patented spin kick, from just out of range, before Grasso simply stepped in, took her back, took her down and tapped her out.
It was a loss that had been a long time coming, but finally that bad habit was truly exploited. We now have a new champion, which also means that Amanda Nunez can now no longer claim to heave beaten every champion outside of womens’ strawweight.We also saw Cody Garbrandt pick up a win after a long string of nasty stoppage losses. So that’s nice.
So, is Jon Jones the greatest of all time? Of course not. He has been champion of the two weakest divisions in the UFC, has been caught for PEDs and has cheated in nearly every fight he’s competed in via his accidentally on purpose eye pokes. Not to mention this is genuinely the first performance he has had since 2015 where he has looked remotely good. From back to back robberies against Santos and Reyes, to his lazy performances against Ovince St. Preux and Anthony Smith to his fight spoiled by a failed drug test against Cormier.
Jon Jones is simply not the greatest fighter of all time. Although he is very good. The question remains, could he hypothetically become the greatest if he continued to dominate the heavyweight division. He would need to defend the heavyweight title four times minimum to beat Stipe Miocic’s record and do so against the best the division has to offer. Is that likely? Well… no.
The big issue for Jon Jones has always been activity, he is an all time great fighter who we barely ever see. This itself was his first fight after three years of activity, and even before that Jon Jones would fight once a year, with the exception of 2019.
The question in my mind is not ‘is Jon Jones the greatest’, it’s ‘will we see him fight again in the next three years?’
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