Has Jon Jones passed Georges St-Pierre in the pound-for-pound debate?

By Matt Larkin

Guest Writer

Another high-profile fight, another easy-breezy win for Jon “Bones” Jones.

Last weekend, the UFC’s light heavyweight champion and youngest belt holder in the promotion’s history battled a legend of the sport, Rampage Jackson, and tossed him aside like nothing.

The fight lasted four rounds but wasn’t remotely close. Jones picked Jackson apart with his ridiculous reach and unpredictability in the striking game, softening him up before choking him out. Rampage barely laid a finger on him. Most other high-profile MMA fighters even believe Jones toyed with Rampage and could’ve finished the fight sooner.

The epic performance called to mind the current world pound-for-pound rankings. Jones is almost a consensus top-four pick, with Cain Velasquez arguably deserving the fifth spot. After Jose Aldo got beat up in his last defense, it’s fair to argue that Jones deserves at least the No. 3 spot. But what about the top two spots?

It’s fair to say that Anderson Silva remains untouchable at No. 1. He’s won 15 straight fights and has never lost in the UFC. But what about Georges St-Pierre?

On paper, the welterweight champion has done little to lose the second rung on the ladder, having won nine consecutive fights. But a look at four pound-for-pound factors shows suggests GSP and Jones may be interchangeable.

1. Longevity

Naturally, GSP still has the edge at this stage. He’s 22-2 for his career and has defended his UFC welterweight title six straight times. Jones’ defense streak sits at one and counting.

Edge: St-Pierre

2. Dominance

A few years ago, GSP would’ve gotten plenty of votes, as his wrestling has made him dominant. But Jones has taken dominance to an even higher level. In 15 pro fights, the kid hasn’t sustained a scratch. No opponent has landed a noteworthy strike, takedown or submission attempt. Jones has utterly owned his rivals with unorthodox, accurate striking, powerful wrestling and evasiveness.

The crazy thing about Jones: as his opponents get tougher, he doesn’t become less dominant. He made legends like Rampage and Shogun look just as bad as his early conquests like Stephan Bonnar and Jake O’Brien. He beat an elite wrestler like Ryan Bader with superior wrestling. He beat an amazing Muay Thai striker in Shogun with superior striking. No fighter in MMA history has ever obliterated the competition like Jones through his first 15 bouts.

Edge: Jones

3. Quality of Opponents

GSP still gets the clear edge here. Jones was coddled to start his UFC career and, after breezing through some vets and young pups, arguably has only three victories that matter (Bader, Rua, Jackson).

GSP, meanwhile, has cleaned out the competition at 170 pounds. He’s beaten two of the greatest fighters of all time, BJ Penn and Matt Hughes, twice each. He’s avenged his only two defeats (Hughes and Matt Serra). He has turned aside everyone thrown his way.

Edge: St-Pierre

4. Intimidation factor

St-Pierre was a much more intimidating fighter a few years ago, when he used his Karate to pummel opponents. But his lack of finishing ability in recent years has been well-documented. Dana White has defended GSP, stating that his opponents have gotten tougher and thus made it tougher for him to put guys away. But tough competition hasn’t stopped Silva from burying opponents and it seems no one can go the distance with Jones anymore.

As Pat Barry explained, Jones has reached “Mike Tyson status.” Fighters are afraid of him and have no idea how to solve him.

Edge: Jones

To me, St-Pierre and Jones are on equal footing as co-No. 2s in the pound-for-pound rankings. The way things are trending, Jones may be alone in the second spot before long.

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