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Jon Jones: G.O.A.T. debate already over, heavyweight run just ‘cherry on top’

After three years away from the sport, “Bones” is excited to show fans who the real G.O.A.T. is (not like there’s any real argument in his mind).

UFC 247: Jones v Reyes Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Jon Jones, without a doubt, is among the greatest fighters to ever compete in mixed martial arts (MMA). Any legitimate MMA “Greatest of all Time” (G.O.A.T.) discussion has to include his name, even if it’s just to disqualify him for all the steroid accusations and/or personal issues.

Other G.O.A.T. contenders like Georges St-Pierre seem to take a blase approach to the topic, but not Jones. He’s pretty sensitive to perceived slights on his legacy. When Khabib Nurmagomedov took his No. 1 spot in UFC’s official pound-for-pound rankings in Oct. 2020, he tweeted, “Until I take that heavy crown, I grant you the spot. Enjoy champ. 15 world titles, numbers don’t lie.”

One year later, Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski both climbed above him in the same rankings. Jones was particularly unimpressed with “The Last Stylebender” situation.

“When you’re ranked above Jon Jones on a pound-for-pound list, but you know you can’t defend a takedown,” he wrote with a shrug emoji. Another tweet read, “Just take me off that silly list.”

Now, three years removed from his last UFC fight, Jones is set to return to action at UFC 285 against Ciryl Gane for the suddenly-vacant Heavyweight title on March 4, 2023. It’s the perfect opportunity to grab back that pound-for-pound No. 1 spot and settle the G.O.A.T. debate once and for all ... not like Jones feels like he needs to, though.

In a new interview with The MMA Underground, “Bones” said the G.O.A.T. debate is already over.

“I am very aware of who I am and my image — the good and the bad,” Jones said. “I’m very aware of the G.O.A.T. argument and where I stand. And I honestly feel in my heart that there’s not much of an argument when it comes to in-Octagon performance.

“Greatness is a big word, though, so if you’re talking about character and greatness and relatability and all this other stuff, maybe some people won’t consider me a great individual,” he added. “But, when it comes to in-cage, I do believe that that argument is over. So I don’t hold a lot of pressure on myself to prove that I’m the best. I’m excited to be able to take care of my family financially. And I’m also very aware that another win would definitely put a cherry on top of an argument that’s already over.”

There’s certainly no denying Jones’ legacy of excellence over time, even if his last few outings at Light Heavyweight were pretty ho-hum. From 2011 to 2020, he didn’t have a single fight where a UFC title wasn’t on the line. And he won them all (even though his second win over Daniel Cormier was overturned to a “No Contest” after he tested positive for turinabol metabolites).

When asked if he had a message for fans of the sport, Jones once again implied he was about to blow this silly G.O.A.T. debate out of the water.

“I want the fans to know that there are levels to this game,” he said. “There are levels to this game and I’m about to show the world how great I can be.”

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