In the high-stakes world of UFC, the line between champion and contender can be a single punch. The recent title clash at UFC 284, coupled with a controversial return at UFC 285, has ignited a fierce debate around rankings and who truly deserves the accolade of the best fighter on the planet.
The drama centres around three fighters: Islam Makhachev, Alexander Volkanovski, and the legendary Jon Jones. The showdown in Perth, Australia, last February saw reigning lightweight champion Islam Makhachev defend his title against featherweight titlist, Alexander Volkanovski.
Despite Volkanovski's pre-fight top ranking and aspirations to become a two-division champion, he fell to a unanimous decision defeat against Makhachev. This loss didn't, however, affect Volkanovski's ranking - he maintained his top spot, a decision that did not sit well with Makhachev.
The Return of the King: Jon Jones' Heated Comeback
The dispute over rankings heated up further in the aftermath of UFC 285, where former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones made his much-anticipated heavyweight debut. Jones, considered by many as one of the greatest fighters in history, made a triumphant return by securing a quick victory over Ciryl Gane with a guillotine choke.
The win saw Jones reclaim his place at the top of the rankings, a position he had held at numerous points throughout his illustrious career. Makhachev was then relegated to third place, which drew the Russian fighter's ire. “This is bulls, brother,” Makhachev told Daniel Cormier on his YouTube channel.
“How can Jon Jones be No. 1? He beat some guy who is not a champion... Doesn’t matter how he beat him. The UFC put him best pound-for-pound. But other people who know about MMA, they know who is the best fighter in the world.
Don’t call me lightweight champion. Call me pound-for-pound best fighter”. Makhachev's criticism revolves around the legitimacy of Jones' comeback win, given that Gane was not a reigning champion. However, Jones' shift to the heavyweight division and his sterling career record are likely what propelled him back to the top spot.
Despite the controversy, both Jones and Makhachev have demonstrated exceptional dominance in the Octagon, each suffering only a single defeat in over 25 fights. Makhachev, who has competed exclusively in the lightweight division, is now eyeing a welterweight championship.
He believes his potential two-division champion status will finally earn him the recognition he craves. “This is my dream, and I’m sure I can be a double champion,” Makhachev declared. “I can beat Leon Edwards...
Just give me one chance, and that’s it. Maybe after I win a second belt, they’re gonna put me best pound-for-pound”. As the debate continues, one thing is clear: the UFC rankings remain a battleground, and the fight for supremacy extends far beyond the Octagon.
Francis Ngannou still hopes to fight Jon Jones, that fight has to come
Shamil Gaziev wants a fight at UFC 295 when Jon Jones defends his heavyweight belt
Great interest in the match between Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic
Alexander Volkanovski wants to fight Islam Makhachev for the rematch at UFC 300
Daniel Cormier : Jon Jones doesn't want to fight those young, hard-punching guys?
Jon Jones admits there are plenty of good young fighters