Khabib Nurmagomedov tops Jon Jones, ranked No. 1 in official UFC Pound-for-Pound ranking

October 27, 2020

EDITORIAL OPINION

One of the only things that UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov asked for when he announced his retirement after defeating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on Saturday was to be instilled as the No. 1 Pound-for-Pound fighter in the UFC rankings.

“I know only one thing I want from UFC, you guys have to make me No. 1 on pound-for-pound fighter in the world (rankings) because I deserve this,” Khabib said in the Octagon.

“UFC undisputed, undefeated lightweight champion, 13-0, 13 in UFC, 29 in all pro MMA career. I think I deserve it.”

Done. Khabib is now ranked above Jones in the official UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings, as voted on by journalists, including MMAWeekly.com’s Ken Pishna and Jeff Cain.

It was work of my life, I never got anything easy, and nothing was given to me because I’m nice guy. Hard work, hope for Allah and patience, this three ingredient helps me to get successful, and of course, control and advises from my Father, who invested in me a lot of time and work.

Khabib Nurmagomedov – Instagram

But does he deserve it? Jones has made strong arguments against it, going on a Twitter rant to make the case that he has achieved much more in his career than has Khabib.

Jones didn’t go out of his way to put Khabib down. In fact, he praises Khabib as a champion and for the stellar career he has had. He simply argued that he belongs on a higher pedestal.

Comparing the two, there are several similar statistics. Jones is officially 26-1 with 1 no contest. Khabib is 29-0.

It should be noted that Jones’s lone loss came early in his career when he was disqualified for using a downward elbow strike on Matt Hamill. He was handily winning the fight to that point and the downward elbow strike is still one of the most controversial inclusions in the rules to this day.

Jones’s no contest was originally a knockout of Daniel Cormier. The result was changed to a no contest after Jones tested positive for Turinabol, an anabolic steroid.

Jones won the UFC light heavyweight championship at 23 years of age by defeating Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. He was the youngest fighter ever to win a UFC championship up to that point. He never lost the belt in the cage.

Khabib was 29 when he defeated Al Iaquinta for the vacant lightweight title at UFC 223.

Jones has won the UFC light heavyweight title twice (not counting his no contest with Cormier) and the interim title once. He has been stripped of the belt on three occasions (including the bout with Cormier, where he had won the belt prior to it being ruled a no contest).

He vacated the belt recently, taking some time off to deal with pursuits outside of the cage, and to focus on an eventual move to heavyweight.

Not counting the no contest, Jones has defended the UFC light heavyweight title a record 11 times. That is just one of many records that Jones has set. Jones has the most wins in the light heavyweight division, most wins in UFC title fights, and is tied with Demetrious Johnson for most overall UFC title defenses.

Khabib won the belt in 2018 and defended it three times before he retired following the win over Gaethje at UFC 254.

Jones has finished 16 of his 28 opponents, again, not including the no contest against Cormier. Had he not been disqualified in the fight with Hamill, he likely would have finished that fight, though it is not included as such in his official stats.

Khabib has finished 19 of his 29 opponents, including submissions in all three of his title defenses (against Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, and Gaethje). He has also only ever lost a round twice during his 13-bout UFC tenure.

So how do Khabib Nurmagomedov and Jon Jones rank?

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It was work of my life, I never got anything easy, and nothing was given to me because I’m nice guy. Hard work, hope for Allah and patience, this three ingredient helps me to get successful, and of course, control and advises from my Father, who invested in me a lot of time and work. – Это была работа всей моей жизни, я ничего не получил легко, и ничего мне не далось просто так. Упорный труд, Надежда на Аллаха и терпение, вот три качества которые мне помогли прийти к успеху и конечно же постоянный контроль и советы Отца, который вложил в меня очень много времени и труда.

A post shared by Khabib Nurmagomedov (@khabib_nurmagomedov) on

Jones certainly has many more accolades, as he has argued, after attaining championship status. He has had a longer run as champion and has defeated everyone put before him. He has had a few bouts that were close and could be argued for his opponent. When it comes down to the scorecards, he has won them all, save for the Hamill disqualification prior to him being a champion.

Khabib, however, has been consistently more dominant in the Octagon. He’s never been pushed to a questionable decision. He’s never been bloodied and bruised, on the verge of defeat, only to pull it out in the waning moments.

He certainly doesn’t have the championship accolades that Jones possesses. Then again, he also doesn’t carry the baggage as does Jones.

As mentioned, Jones has had anti-doping issues and has been stripped of the title on three occasions for one reason or another.

So where does that leave us? Is Jones the mythical G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) or is Khabib the Pound-for-Pound best, as the official rankings indicate?

Actually, the case can be made for both.

It is difficult to argue definitively about the G.O.A.T. status for any fighter over others of the same ilk. Does Jones’s career stack up to heights beyond Khabib’s? Perhaps. But what about Georges St-Pierre? Anderson Silva? Demetrious Johnson? Amanda Nunes? Cris Cyborg? Fedor Emelianenko? Daniel Cormier? Stipe Miocic? Randy Couture?

The greatest of all time is a designation that is never going to have a definitive answer. There are too many variables and too many differences in era, opposition, weight class, etc.

The pound-for-pound ranking is similarly difficult to define, but has a distinguishing factor in that it is locked to a very specific moment in time. It is now. Who is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world now?

St-Pierre does not have any consideration in the UFC’s pound-for-pound ranking. He is not a UFC fighter at this moment. Neither is Johnson, nor Fedor, nor Cormier, nor Couture.

While Jones’s career certainly stacks up, where does it stack up now, at this moment in time, against Khabib’s?

And remember, until Khabib officially retires by withdrawing from the USADA drug testing pool, he is considered an active fighter eligible for ranking. Once he makes it official, he will be removed, both from lightweight and pound-for-pound consideration.

Jones hasn’t fought since February, which was a victory in a close decision win over Dominick Reyes. His win before that was a split decision over Thiago Santos. Before that? A dominant decision in which he routed Anthony Smith.

As mentioned, Khabib’s three most recent fights have all been submission victories. All three have also come against former champions or interim champions.

While there are most definitely arguments to be had about the greatest of all time, especially when it comes to Jones and Khabib, I would argue that Khabib, at this moment in time, is the UFC men’s top pound-for-pound fighter. Once he truly retires, Jones will likely be right back in the top spot.

Where would you argue that Jones or Khabib stand amongst the greatest of all time? How would you rank them among the UFC men’s current pound-for-pound?


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