The Most Lucid Explanation of the Greatest MMA Fighter of All Time Summary

At the initial close of this series, here is my official list with brief explanations for why fighters are ranked where they are. Below each brief explanation is a link to the much more detailed explanation.

First, here are those whom I considered to be “Honorable Mentions” when in reality, what these were was what I deem to be the two biggest “Future Contenders” for the GOAT title at this moment in time:

And of course, I would have been remiss if I did not rail against the MMA media for even asking if Conor McGregor is the GOAT:

Now, for the list:

#8: Matt Hughes (Originally #5): He falls short when being juxtaposed to my criteria and he was in fact a bit overrated with his original placement. I can still see an argument for him being higher than the #6 fighter based on my findings, but this doesn’t resolve some major weaknesses as it relates to my criteria.

#7: Dominick Cruz.: You can read more about Cruz in the “Honorable Mentions” article. He was originally not listed officially, but based on my criteria, he definitely should have been.

#6: Fedor Emelianenko

Rationale: Greatest heavyweight of all time and an unheard of winning streak at the HW division. He is not higher due to lack of CONSISTENT top-level competition This hurts him .his choosing not competing in the UFC prevented him from avenging losses to Werdum and Dan Henderson, who are arguably his two most talented opponents. Furthermore, nearly half of his opponents never competed in the UFC. Anyone who follows MMA would agree that if you are a heavyweight worth a damn, the UFC will find you because prospective heavyweights don’t come around often. This speaks to how mediocre much of Fedor’s competition was. If you want to be the GOAT, you need to have the hunger to be so. It feels to me that those who argue Fedor is the GOAT want this to be true more than he does. No one who is the GOAT can have his fans more eager for him to be considered the best than the athlete himself. Refusing to sign with the UFC to CONSISTENTLY compete against the best competition instead of in spurts, hurts his legacy. The “end of his career” excuse for his losses has been shredded repeatedly in the “Part 3” thread.

#5: José Aldo

Rationale: In being caught up in Aldo’s devastating loss to McGregor, and how clearly that eliminated him from GOAT contention, I admittedly detracted from his unbelievable winning streak in a very competitive division. I say that because I indeed do not feel there is a strong argument for Matt Hughes to be placed above Aldo. I also believe that Aldo, like Hughes, is above Fedor because although he lost to McGregor (whom I believe is his best opponent talent wise) in 13 seconds, at least he is doing everything in his power to earn a rematch to prove it was a fluke. While Fedor, on the other hand, has been content in fighting mediocre talent away from the UFC following his losses to Henderson, Werdum, and Big Foot.

#4: Anderson Silva

Rationale: His record of 33-8-1 is not on par percentage-wise with the following three men. And none of the three men were dominated as Silva was in the Sonnen fight. The belief is that those who anoint him as the GOAT do so because he had the greatest reign, not necessarily the greatest career-long performances or winning percentage. This placement definitely should be read over in more detail which is provided in part 4 of the series.

Detailed explanation:

#3: Demetrious Johnson

Rationale: This placement over Anderson Silva was described in extreme detail in part 5. It’s best to read it there as there is no abridged version for it. Johnson not avenging his loss to Dominick Cruz is the primary reason for him not being higher than the #2 fighter.

Detailed explanation:

#2: Georges St. Pierre

Rationale: Nothing negative to say. Just hasn’t done what the #1 fighter has done. Because no one has. However, GSP would still have had an opportunity to be number 1 if he had continued to widen the victory gap between himself and the #1 fighter following GSP’s decision victory over Jonny Hendricks.

Here is the link that explains his placement over Johnson and Silva:

#1: Jon Jones

It’s quite simple. When a fighter has done what no one else has done stretched out over a long period of time (not just with two victories as the case is with Conor McGregor), and he has barely lost a round when facing a gauntlet of former champions and elite competition, I just fail to see why he is not the clear consensus GOAT by the MMA media or anyone else who does not give him that respect.

No fighter will ever be the universally-agreed upon GOAT. But to be perfectly honest, my disdain for the MMA media for not calling Jones the GOAT when they were so willing to do so with Anderson Silva is what prompted me to even write this series. Because although there will never be an undisputed GOAT, there should still be someone who is given the respect of having that title as a general consensus when it has clearly been earned. For example, there will be millions who argue that Michael Jordan is not the greatest basketball player ever. They may argue that it’s Bill Russel, Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, or even LeBron James…or maybe someone else entirely. But that does not change the fact that Michael Jordan is clearly the consensus GOAT based on what he achieved in his era statistically and with championships. What I am insisting is that we give Jon Jones that same respect. That even though there will be those who argue otherwise, the MMA journalists and the MMA community can just admit and agree that he has done what no one else has done and against some of the most elite competition, all while barely losing any rounds along the way.

Things change. And minds change. If someone’s mind is closed then their mouth should not open. The GOAT list is changeable and can always fluctuate. The truth is, #7-#2 on this list is very debatable, and I can understand any drastic rearranging between those numbers. What I have attempted to do in this series is explain why I have each and every fighter where they are by directly comparing them to one another with as many objective facts as possible in this subjective world and sport we choose to dwell in. But as for #1, that is where I feel the debate and rearranging has been blown completely out of proportion to the facts.

This series will remain open for revision. The #2-#7 list might change if someone can persuade me with facts and logic. I wouldn’t hold my breath for #1 changing anytime soon, however.

The criteria I have used looks something like this, in order of importance:

  • Win/Loss Record. Sports is about winning and losing. Combat sports are among the few sports where the competitor gets all the credit for winning or all the blame for losing. Accordingly, it is easier to separate the greatest ever with this criterion. It is fallacious to say Tom Brady is better than Peyton Manning because he won more Super Bowls in a team sport with so many other variables. It is much, much less fallacious to say that Jon Jones is better than Anderson Silva because he has a drastically higher winning percentage against opponents who also have a higher winning percentage than Silva’s. It should, however, go without saying that the win/loss record is relative to whom the GOAT contender has faced, which is why Khabib is not yet on the list.
  • Performance Based on Round Success. Instead of saying who has the best technique, style, or was the most physically dominant, etc, I based most of my performance theories on unanimous decisions, finishes, and how many rounds were lost. This is my attempt at bringing facts to the eye test instead of opinions.
  • Achieving Something Different From One’s peers. This is why McGregor and Khabib are such strong contenders for the future because McGregor has already done this, and Khabib has the potential to do this with his undefeated record.
  • Performance in Key Matches: We see this in my Fedor analysis, my Demetrious Johnson/Dominick Cruz analysis, and my explanation for Jones being placed where he is. It also is another key determinant for why Hughes is placed over Fedor: because he has victories over the opponents from his key losses, and Fedor does not.

Here are the full list of parts for the series:

Part 1: The Honorable Mentions aka “The Future Contenders”

Part 2: The Notorious Mention

Part 3: Fedor Emelianenko vs. The UFC

Part 4: Down Came the Rain and Washed the Spider Out

Detailed explanation:

Part 5: The Meteroric Rise of Mighty Mouse

Detailed explanation:

Part 6: No Rush to be the GOAT

Part 7: Why it is Disrespectful to the Sport of MMA to not Consider Jon Jones the Consensus GOAT

Again, this list is subject to change if I am persuaded by facts and logic.


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