No surprise: Jon Jones stands by Dana White’s claim he’s MMA’s all-time P4P great /d

NEWARK, N.J. – Islam Makhachev continued to live up to his longtime promise Saturday with a UFC 302 main event win.

Makhachev (26-1 MMA, 15-1 UFC) was in a Fight of the Night thriller with Dustin Poirier (30-9 MMA, 22-8 UFC), but kept chasing a submission even into the final round and finally tapped the former interim champion with a D’Arce choke to defend the lightweight title at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Afterward, the talk from various broadcast booths, both during the live event and after the card was over, was that Makhachev had sealed the deal as MMA’s pound-for-pound current top fighter. But UFC CEO Dana White begged to differ.

Although White long has lauded former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov as one of the all-time pound-for-pound greats, and regularly has praised Nurmagomedov’s lifelong friend and teammate Makhachev as his proverbial second coming, the UFC head said someone else is atop the pound-for-pound list right now: heavyweight champion and former light heavyweight champ Jon Jones (27-1 MMA, 21-1 UFC).

“I think (Makhachev) is one of the greatest of all time,” White told MMA Junkie at his post-event news conference. “I think he’s incredible. I don’t think he’s the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.

“For anyone to call Islam the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world when Jon Jones is still f*cking fighting is nuts and shouldn’t be (voting) in the pound-for-pound (list) or doing any of the f*cking rankings ever if that’s what you really think. Jon Jones has never lost a fight ever. And then when you think about what the pound-for-pound rankings really mean, he moved up to heavyweight and destroyed the best guy in the world.”

Not surprisingly, Jones agrees.

“It felt awesome to get that level of recognition from the boss, the man that’s literally been here since UFC 1. I know the haters are not gonna like his comments but Dana’s a pretty hard person to argue with. @danawhite has had a front row seat to my entire career, facts are facts,” Jones posted on social media.

Jones won the light heavyweight title in 2011 and set the UFC record for youngest titleholder. After his eighth title defense in early 2015, which already was a record, he was stripped of the title for the first time when he failed a drug test with a positive cocaine test. A few months later, he was involved in a felony hit-and-run.

He returned and won an interim title in 2016, then unified the 205-pound title picture with a second win over rival Daniel Cormier. Jones was pulled from his rematch with Cormier during UFC 200 fight week for a positive steroid test that widely was blamed on contaminated substances and he was suspended again. Jones beat Cormier in 2017, but that title win was overturned and Jones again was stripped of a belt when he tested positive for steroids at UFC 214.

He reclaimed the title in late 2018 and had three decision wins in 2019-2020. But after his UFC 247 win over Dominick Reyes, he surrendered the light heavyweight title and declared an intention to move to heavyweight to go after a belt there.

After more than three years off, he beat Ciryl Gane in March 2023 to win the vacant heavyweight title after champion Francis Ngannou left the promotion in a contract dispute. So White’s contention that Jones “destroyed the best guy in the world” has to be predicated on the idea that Gane, who lost to Ngannou in 2022, was the world’s top fighter at the time – a supposition that most analysts dispute.

Jones has not fought since his March 2023 win over Gane. He suffered a training injury that has been keeping him from a fight with former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (20-4 MMA, 14-4 UFC) expected to take place later this year. There has been speculation that both Miocic, who will turn 42 in August, will retire after the fight – and that Jones might, too.

Going back 10 years, Jones has fought just eight times, and one was flipped to a no contest. He’s 7-0 in those fights with five decisions.

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