Photo by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting.
After his dominant performance against Rashad Evans at UFC 145, UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones has very nearly cleaned out the LHW division. Since taking the title from Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 128, Jones has beaten ex-champs Lyoto Machida, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and now Evans.
Jones has definitively established himself as the first dominant champion since Rampage Jackson took the title from Chuck Liddell in May 2007. During that interregnum, during which 5 men held the title, the LHW belt was only defended successfully twice and one of those wins was a very controversial decision.
With his 3rd successful title defense, Jones is now on the verge of joining a very exclusive club of UFC LHW champions. Only Jones, Liddell, Tito Ortiz and Frank Shamrock have defended the belt 4 times. Ortiz even managed a 5th defense.
Jones accomplishments have some, such as MMA Fighting's Mike Chiappetta already saying that Jones may be the Greatest LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT of All Time.
We'll let Chiappetta make his case after the jump...
SBN coverage of UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans
I'm not saying he's the best ever, not quite yet, but he's now in the conversation. He has to be, after vanquishing rival Rashad Evans at UFC 145. That's admittedly an absurd notion when you take into consideration the fact that he's just 24 years old and barely four years into his professional career, but the facts are the facts. In the last 13 months, he's beaten four straight former champions, four straight possible Hall of Famers in Mauricio Rua, Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida and now, Evans.
Throw in his February 2011 win over Ryan Bader and he's beaten five top 10 opponents in the span of 14 months, an accomplishment likely unmatched not only in MMA, but in the history of combat sports. If he beats his next scheduled opponent Henderson -- another future Hall of Famer -- he will only be extending the most amazing run this sport has ever seen.
I'll look at this issue in greater depth this week, but for now I'll limit myself to saying that Jones' rivals at this point for greatest LHW of all time are: Frank Shamrock (4 title defenses, unified the division), Tito Ortiz (5 straight defenses), Chuck Liddell (4 title defenses), Wanderlei Silva (defended the Pride 205lb belt 5 times) and Shogun Rua (for his Pride MW GP tournament streak of 4 wins over top ranked competition).
What do you think? Where do you rank Jones in the GOAT sweepstakes?