Anointed the crown of greatest fighter in MMA history by many, years before he even turned 30, the precipitous fall of Jon Jones which followed over the last two years was difficult to watch.
But despite his personal issues outside the cage, which produced lengthy delays thanks to drug suspensions and troubles with the law, Jones has still never been beaten inside of it. And by returning Saturday with a viciousat UFC 214 to regain his title, Jones effectively put his lost career back on track.
At 30, Jones reminded any doubters just how dangerous and special of a fighter he can be when his life is in order. The victory also allowed him to regain the title of pound-for-pound best in the world that he only lost through inactivity and a tentative victory in 2016, which coincided with flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson’s continued dominance.
The debate between Jones and Johnson for best in the sport is a healthy one. But the difference comes down to the quality of talent consistently available to Johnson at flyweight and the dynamic and creative nature to Jones’ skill set.
Jones’ journey from dominant champion to cautionary tale appears to be over for the moment. Now we can go back to calling him what he is — the best fighter who ever stepped foot inside the Octagon.
Men’s Pound for Pound Rankings
Honorable mentions: Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson, Robert Whittaker, Jose Aldo, Luke Rockhold
After years of wondering whether she would ever be given the chance, Cris “Cyborg” Justino finally stepped foot inside the Octagon during a championship match and came away with UFC gold.
Justino, 32, was patiently dominant in picking apart Invicta FC bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger en route to a at UFC 214.
Long considered among the best female fighters in the world, Justino cemented that claim in winning the belt that for a division that was largely created for her. But she did so in such an outstanding performance which showcased her growth as a fighter from slugger to calculated striker.
Look for the women’s top 5 to make a change in September when UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes finally gets her rematch against Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 215 in Edmonton, Alberta. Nunes pulled out of their scheduled UFC 213 meeting in July due to illness following a difficult weight cut.
Women’s Pound for Pound Rankings
Honorable mentions: Rose Namajunas, Raquel Pennington, Cynthia Calvillo, Tecia Torres, Jessica Andrade