Jon Jones is happy to praise Khabib Nurmagomedov on an incredible career, but he’s not ready to just hand over his spot as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, much less declare anybody else as the greatest of all-time.
At UFC 254, Nurmagomedov announced his retirement from MMA just moments after submitting Justin Gaethje to retain his lightweight title and move his record to 29-0 overall. The undefeated Dagestani superstar then asked for a the No. 1 spot in the pound-for-pound rankings as one final gesture in a career where he dominated his competition while losing only two rounds in the octagon.
While Jones conceded his No. 1 pound-for-pound ranking momentarily to help celebrate Nurmagomedov’s career, the former UFC light heavyweight champion quickly pointed out all the ways he’s superior.
“15 world titles, numbers don’t lie,” Jones wrote on Twitter. “Definitely a powerful moment, but my logic is definitely not clouded. I’ve won 15 world titles, he just won his 4th. The fact that this is even a conversation is mine blowing to me.”
For all the ways Jones congratulated Nurmagomedov for his record and resume, adding he surely “made his father along with millions of fans around the world incredibly proud,” he’s not ready to hand over his life’s work.
Jones is more than happy to remind everybody of the heady list of accomplishments he’s put together, essentially remaining undefeated – outside of a lone disqualification loss in a fight he was dominating – in the UFC over the past decade.
“When I signed with UFC I was one of the youngest fighters on the roster, youngest champion in the history of the sport and have only had three competitive fights,” Jones said. “I understand most people have never been number one in their community, state, let alone the world. My competitive nature won’t allow me to just stand by and see someone ask to be considered the best. I’ve sacrificed too much blood.
“I mean if I get out ranked by a man with only three title defenses, I don’t really know what to think anymore. Over 50% of my career have been title fights. LeBron James is allowed to win a game by one point but not Jon Jones. Man I have really spoiled you guys.”
Perhaps recency bias plays a part, but Jones just can’t fathom how his overall career suddenly pales in comparison to Nurmagomedov, no matter what he did on Saturday night at UFC 254.
“If we’re having a popularity contest, I’d gladly take my L,” Jones wrote. “This sh*t has nothing to do with fame or being a good person. I’ve giving my whole adult life to this game, I owe it to myself to speak up. People want me to stay quiet and let him have his moment while I just sit back and watch my hard work get moved down the rankings. It’s not fair to my family, or the team of people who have sacrificed to get me this far
“Not salty at all, I really do respect Khabib, I honor the type of man he is. But being the best is earned not given. Unfortunately four title fights ain’t it, no matter how much we all like [him].”