Jon Jones back on top as MMA’s unquestioned greatest of all time

LAS VEGAS. Widely regarded as the greatest women’s mixed martial artist in the past 15 months, Amanda Nunes has lost her championship title. On Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 285 at T-Mobile Arena, Valentina Shevchenko, who is clearly the greatest flyweight of all time, was submitted and lost the championship to Alexa Grasso.

In August, Kamaru Usman, who was the No. 1 fighter in the world regardless of weight class, was knocked out in the last seconds of his fight and lost his welterweight title.

The fact is that in mixed martial arts anything can happen at any moment.

Except when Jon Jones is involved. The new UFC Heavyweight Champion is so big, so powerful, and so invincible that he seems almost immune to defeat.

Before Saturday’s fight for the vacant heavyweight title against Cyril Gein, he said he would make the fight easy. Fighters often say this in an attempt to advance with swagger and boastfulness. Jones is one of the few who brag and then come out and confirm it.

On Saturday, he guillotineed Gein 37 months later and gained 44 pounds more than the last time he fought in the UFC. He then looked like a man in a win over Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 on February 8, 2020, but he did enough to retain his light heavyweight title.

He returned on Saturday at 248 pounds heavyweight and looked better than ever. He made an outstanding fighter look ordinary, and it was nothing more than sparring.

Gein knocked at 2:04 first to start Jones’ last championship, this time not only as a heavyweight champion, but as the undisputed greatest in his sport.

He is a GOAT, if you will.

“Let’s put it this way: there’s no question that Jon Jones is special,” said UFC president Dana White. “He is the greatest of all time. He is undefeated. He has never lost a fight in the UFC. He fought all the best opponents.”

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 04: Jon Jones reacts to his UFC Heavyweight Championship win during UFC 285 at the T-Mobile Arena on March 4, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Chris Greiten/Getty Images)
Jon Jones defeated Cyril Gein in the first round on Saturday to claim the vacant UFC Heavyweight Championship. (Photo by Chris Greiten/Getty Images)

Jones is now 27-1 and his only loss is a disqualification against Matt Hamill in a fight he was on the brink of ending. He received a 12-6 elbow and instead of losing a point, he was disqualified.

However, no one will admit this, and it is a pity that the Nevada Athletic Commission allows this farce to continue.

But this does not detract from the legacy and greatness of Jones.

It’s clear at this point that the only one who can beat Jones is, well, Jones himself. Since his UFC debut in 2008, Jones’ only problems have been those he created himself. He had two drunk driving, including one when he hit a pregnant woman and fled the scene.

He had a host of other issues, and on the night of his 2021 UFC Hall of Fame induction, he was arrested after hitting his head on a police car. He clearly had a problem with drugs and alcohol, but the reporter had the recklessness and shortsightedness at the pre-fight press conference to ask him how he planned to get the “fire” if he won the fight.

Jones did a great job with the low-brow question: “Trust me,” he said, “you don’t want me rocking.” — just like he did everything else that preceded the fight.

But where he shone, as usual, in the octagon. Just nine seconds into the fight, the time was announced when Gein kicked him below the waist. Jones recovered and did not lose focus. He stuck to his game plan and quickly made short work of the former interim champion.

“Of course he’s a real heavyweight,” Gein said in a show of respect.

Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback in NFL history, sat ringside and watched the fight. White said Brady flew in from his Florida home on Saturday to see Jones.

He had such an impact. And because he seems to have dedicated himself to a cleaner life, serving his community, and putting his problems behind him, fans have embraced him.

The T-Mobile Arena sold out on Saturday with 19,471 fans in attendance. The $12.15 million gate was the fourth largest in UFC history and the largest for a tournament that included heavyweights.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 04: Jon Jones walks into the octagon in a fight for the UFC Heavyweight Championship during UFC 285 at the T-Mobile Arena on March 4, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
On Saturday, fans watch Jon Jones enter the octagon for the first time in over three years. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

He was hailed as a hero when he entered the octagon on Saturday.

“When I first got into the UFC, I talked a lot about God and tried to be a good person,” Jones said. “But then people saw that my life wasn’t perfect. I made mistakes. I sinned and fell. I think a lot of people looked at me as a fake person.

“At this point, people can see that I am human and that I really love God. Christians are not perfect. I just think I’m closer to people than ever.”

He said he was going to donate his $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus to charities in his adopted hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico. He said he’s focused on personal development and doesn’t expect to be caught in the hype he used to be.

However, as a fighter, he may be better than ever. He criticized former UFC champion Francis Ngannou for leaving the UFC instead of fighting him.

“Francis is a big old bastard,” Jones said.

And he gave some advice to Stipa Miocic, the former champion he will fight later this year.

“My next fight is going to be amazing,” Jones said. “I respectfully say to Stipe: right now I would refuse to work as a firefighter. I say this with all due respect. My whole world will be focused on it. This is the biggest opportunity of my life to beat a GOAT heavyweight and I’m going to give everything I have. Absolutely everything I have.”


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