3 Steps for Jon Jones to Solidify UFC’s Elite ‘GOAT’ Status

Jon Jones

Getty Jon Jones celebrates after knocking out Daniel Cormier in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout during UFC 214.

UFC 247 is rapidly approaching, and with it is the returning UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon “Bones” Jones. He is set to defend his title against the #4 ranked contender, Dominick “The Devastator” Reyes.

UFC 247 takes place February 8 at 10 p.m. Eastern time. It will air as a pay-per-view on ESPN+.

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For Reyes, this match against Jones will be the biggest moment of his MMA career. And for Bones, this will be another chapter in a career that many consider the greatest ever.

Proclaiming a fighter to be the greatest of all time (GOAT) is a debate that has been raging for years. Typically, four names have been discussed for this accolade, and those are Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva and Demetrious Johnson.

Amanda Nunes has become the consensus greatest female fighter of all time, but she hasn’t been in the limelight as long as the others. Khabib Nurmagomedov has been mentioned by many as well, but his career has not yet had an illustrious history like the aforementioned fighters.

This debate is wildly subjective and is marred with a difference of opinion. By looking at his record and how long he’s been on top, Jones’ name has been at the top of this list for many fans and analysts. But he has not become the consensus GOAT.

There are three potential steps for Jones to reach this legacy.

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Jones Needs to Keep Winning

The most apparent qualification to be known as the consensus GOAT is to win consistently. Fighting Reyes at UFC 247 will likely not be an easy outing for the champ, but he needs to win this fight to continue his bid of solidifying himself as the king of MMA.

Jones’ resume is littered with legends, former champions and fighters spanning from different generations. And he needs to continue taking on and defeating any challenger that the promotion puts in front of him.

Bones, who boasts a professional mixed martial arts record of 25-1 and 1 no contest, will be competing in the UFC for the 22nd time. He has defeated virtually all of the greatest light heavyweights ever to grace the Octagon, and he’s gotten his hand raised every time except for one occasion.

His lone loss is to Matt Hamill. It was a fight that Jones was winning handily, but as history has it, he used illegal “12 to 6” elbows against Hamill, which led to a disqualification loss for Jones. There have, however, been remarks by UFC president Dana White wanting to overturn the loss.

If Jones suffers defeat on Feb. 8, and he wants to ensure that his claim to the GOAT status remains intact, he may have to seek a rematch with Reyes to keep his name in the discussion.

He also has one no contest as well. That verdict came after he was declared the winner of a rematch bout against then-UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier. Jones scored a knock out against Cormier in the third round. But the announcement of Jones’ failed drug test led to his victory being overturned into a no contest, and to Cormier retaining his belt.

Jones Cannot Fail Another Test For Performance Enhancing Drugs

As mentioned, Jones failed a drug test after his bout against Cormier at UFC 214 in July 2017. A sample that was taken from Jones after he weighed-in for his match ended up testing positive for Turinabol, which is an anabolic steroid. He was stripped of the title and suspended provisionally. However, it was deemed by an arbitrator that Bones was not intentionally cheating.

In his return fight against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 in December 2018, Bones was flagged for drug test irregularities. The match was supposed to take place in Las Vegas, but because of these irregularities, Jones couldn’t get a license to fight in Nevada.

With just days left before UFC 232, the promotion moved the entire event to California so that Jones could compete in his main event match. The stipulation for Jones was that he had to be tested by two drug testing organizations, USADA and VADA. It was revealed by the CSAC that Bones had popped for trace amounts of the same drug he was suspended for after the Cormier test.

However, it was determined by USADA that the banned substance he had in his system from the Cormier fight was “pulsing.” This means that sometimes the lingering Turinabol could show up in his drug test, even if he hadn’t ingested for years. Therefore, this was not a new infraction, and Jones was not found accused of any intentional wrongdoing.

Jones has been hit with other failed drug tests. In 2016, Jones’ urine sample was found to have two banned substances, clomiphene and Letrozole, which are estrogen blockers. However, it was determined by USADA that he unintentionally ingested these substances from a legal, contaminated product. In 2015, Jones also popped from a metabolite linked to cocaine.

He served suspensions for both of these test failures.

For Jones to be considered the greatest of all time, he will most likely have to avoid another drug test failure. It has been said by many analysts and fans that there is already an asterisk by Jones’ career. Although the appropriate governing bodies have cleared him, if the light heavyweight champion pops for another performance-enhancing drug that isn’t related to the Turinabol he ingested before the Cormier fight, his legacy may become irreversibly tarnished.

By having his name associated with multiple drug controversies, people will always wonder if those substances had an impact on his fights and how he would have done without them.

When it comes to performance-enhancing drugs, Jones has been declared innocent of any intentional foul play. But, if he fails again, perception is reality for many people, and that may be the last straw in terms of Bones’ GOAT status.

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Jones May Need to Fight in a New Weight Class

When you look at many of the fighters who can be considered the greatest of all time, most of them have something in common.

Georges St-Pierre, who ruled welterweight for years, came back from his four-year hiatus and moved up a weight class. He fought for and won the UFC middleweight championship at UFC 217 by defeating Michael Bisping.

The middleweight king Anderson Silva tried his hand moving up a weight class multiple times, and he even beat former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Forrest Griffin.

Demetrious Johnson, who was the inaugural UFC 125-pound champion, has fought at 135 pounds many times. He also challenged former UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz for the belt but lost by decision.

Amanda Nunes is the current double champ. She holds the women’s bantamweight and featherweight straps and has taken on, and defeated, the best fighters at each weight division.

All of these fighters have moved up a weight class. This act of boldness undoubtedly strengthens their argument for being the GOAT. Jones has only competed outside of light heavyweight one time, and that was in a catchweight bout of 210 pounds. It was also his first professional MMA fight.

There has been chatter about Bones moving up to heavyweight for years. Whether it was to challenge Brock Lesnar or Cain Velasquez, or more recently, Stipe Miocic or Francis Ngannou, fans and analysts have been craving for Jones to test himself against heavier competition.

Bones has been so dominating at light heavyweight for years, and the spectacle of him challenging these heavyweight titans and winning could cement his legacy.

In the event that Jones can get past Reyes at UFC 247, conversations about his move to heavyweight will most likely ramp up again. If Bones moves up to heavyweight and has success there, his case of earning the consensus GOAT status may be strengthened.

READ NEXT: Dominick Reyes: Five Fast Facts You Need to Know

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