In the run up to his title defence at UFC 247, Jon Jones made an appearance on ESPN “First Take.” His upcoming opponent, Dominick Reyes, was a hot topic, but the lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor also came up.
The host, Stephen A. Smith, gave credence to Nurmagomedov and McGregor’s box office success in the sport. Co-host Max Kellerman postulated that Khabib Nurmagomedov is currently the best pound-for-pound fighter. Jones didn’t take offence to the comment but quickly gave justification for his superior GOAT status.
“I look at Khabib [Nurmagomedov] and Conor [McGregor] and I see how internationally known they are,” Jones said. “And it inspires me for sure, to try and work on my branding a little bit more outside of fighting. But at the end of the day, for me, it’s not about making the most money, it’s not about being the most famous, it’s about being the guy that people are gonna be talking about 50, a 100 years from now.
“That’s really what gets me out of bed in the morning,” Jones continued. “At the end of the day, no disrespect to Conor because I love what he’s doing for our sport, I don’t think he’s gonna be in the conversation when people are sitting around at a barbershop talking about the greatest martial artists in the world.
“I think Khabib’s an amazing fighter,” Jones added. “I think he’s done a great job representing the UFC. He’s a great ambassador for our sport. But if you were to ask some MMA experts about myself and Khabib, I think most people would be able to tell our resumes are completely different. I’ve fought so many world champions under my belt that I’ve defeated. Khabib, a lot of his victories are against a lot of people that are relatively unknown, I’ve been fighting legends since I was a young man in my early 20s.”
Kellerman clarified his comment, responding to Jones.
“Nurmagomedov, in a sport where it seemed early on that the one whose base is the ground game usually has an advantage vs. the guy who’s best known for striking, [that] is the best example I could think of the guy whose ground game is ridiculous and then could also stand up.”
Jon Jones then continued the conversation.
“His stand-up game is really not much to write home about,” Jones said. “I really don’t want to insult my fellow martial artists. I don’t want to insult these guys. I’m happy for everyone. Like I said, some guys are more popular, some guys make more money. It’s always gonna be kind of an opinion thing, but by the time I leave this sport I don’t think there’s gonna be much of an argument.
“I know, in order to put a lot of this pound-for-pound-or ‘who’s the greatest’ to rest, I know I’m going to have to maybe obtain a second belt in a different weight class,” Jones added. “I think that would really set me apart from a lot of other guys.”
What do you think of these comments from Jon Jones?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 2/6/2020.