Khabib Nurmagamedov defended his title for a third time, submitting Justin Gaethje in the second round of their clash in Abu Dhabi. He overwhelmed the American with ludicrous pressure before putting him to sleep with a triangle. In sum, it was a stunning performance and a phenomenal way for him to walk away from the sport.
Because that is exactly what happened. Khabib retired after the win and vacated the UFC lightweight title. This obviously leaves the door open for a new champion. But it also raises questions about who is the greatest MMA fighter of all-time. Of course, this is totally subjective and it’s unlikely that people will ever be united about it.
However, one man who totally disagreed that Khabib is the GOAT was Jon Jones. No prizes for guessing who ‘Bones’ thinks deserves that accolade. In short, the former four-time UFC light-heavyweight champion believes that his record is much better than Khabib’s and that he deserves more respect. Meanwhile, Khabib’s head coach Javier Mendez believes that Jones will be a force at heavyweight.
Mendez is the head coach of AKA in San Diego. He has helped produce champions like Khabib, Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier, and Luke Rockhold. In sum, he’s one of the best coaches in the United States and knows talent when he sees it. He also has a lot of respect for Jon Jones. Mendez believes that Jones will be brilliant at heavyweight because his fight IQ is off the chart.
“I think he’ll do great,” Mendez told Helen Yee. “I think that Jon Jones calculates everything. He’s extremely smart, got a super high IQ in the fight game. He knows exactly what to do, when to do it. I think he’ll do fantastic, I think he would do incredible.”
“I think the only person that probably can give him a problem is [Francis] Ngannou because of the size and the power,” he added. “And I think Ngannou is a problem for anybody but I think other than that, I think Jon Jones steamrolls everybody.”
However, Jones isn’t very fond of AKA because of his rivalry with Cormier. Furthermore, he isn’t pleased with the fans who say that Khabib is the greatest. To sum up, he feels disrespected. Immediately after Dana White said that Khabib is the GOAT, Jones went on a lengthy Twitter tirade.
“I’m talking to all you Khabib fans out there,” said Jones. “Fifteen world titles to your guys’ four, and you guys are really talking about who’s the best fighter ever? You guys are joking, right? Fifteen to four. Are you guys’ kidding me.”
Khabib was undefeated in 29 fights, and officially only dropped two rounds along the way. The first was against McGregor, while two out of three judges controversially awarded the first round to Gaethje in his final fight.
Jones believes that the only contender he has for the GOAT spot is Canadian legend Georges St-Pierre. However, he says he’s more deserving because he has more successful title defenses. But this ignores the fact that St-Pierre was a two-weight champion. Furthermore, Jones tested positive for banned substances twice. In many people’s eyes, this removes him from the conversation.
“The only person that could possibly come back and challenge my record and what I’ve done in the UFC is possibly Georges St-Pierre. He would have to come back and win two championship fights to tie me, and I’m not even retired yet. I’m 33 years old. I’ve got a whole other chapter to go through.”
To finish up, nobody is going to win the GOAT argument unless Israel Adesanya defends his title a couple more times and then goes and beats Jones. Now that would just about do it. But as we said, it’s so subjective that you could make balanced arguments about any one of Jones, St-Pierre, Khabib, Demetrious Johnson, Amanda Nunes, B.J Penn, and Anderson Silva.