By Callum Brady
Following the recent twitter rant from the former UFC double champ Conner McGregor, the UFC GOAT debate has been once again reignited. In the Women's MMA scene Amanda Nunes has long sealed her crown after taking out many legends along the way but in the Men's MMA game the debate is far from over.
Starting with the man who resurfaced the debate with his thread about the subject on twitter, the notorious one Connor McGregor. Connor had an unbelievable start to his UFC career going 7-0 becoming an international superstar and transcending the sport along the way, the Irishman had many iconic fights, Knocking out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds, winning the revenge fight against Nate Diaz and at the height of his career so far was him winning against Eddie Alvarez making him the 'double champ' of the featherweight and lightweight divisions. What also must be taken into account with McGregor is what he brings to MMA and what he brings is eyeballs to the screen and in large numbers, Connor has had plus 1 million PPV buys five times and the current record for PPV buys during the fight with Khabib in UFC 229 which was reported as an immense 2,400,000. Where Connor's claim to be the goat collapses is the fact he was submitted by Nate Diaz originally and in the biggest fight in UFC history and his career so far he was dominated by current champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, being forced to tap again. After being dominated twice it is a hard argument to make the superstar to be the GOAT with so many dominating contenders.
Following on with fighters who were previously considered as strong contenders for the greatest of all time but because of certain circumstances people's opinion soured, Demetrious Johnson (DJ) and Anderson silva are sadly on that list for me. Starting with DJ, who promoted as the GOAT for so long by legendary MMA commentator Joe Rogan after holding the record for title defenses (11) as well as dominating all his competition for so many years and becoming skilled at all aspects of MMA but the knock on DJ comes through his competition which was seen as just too weak compared to other divisions, he was also beaten by Henry Cejudo and then left the UFC and joined One championship which also dents his legacy. In regards to Anderson Silva, he was a transcendent talent who disposed of most of the middleweight division with a flair never seen before, he also holds the record for the longest UFC winning streak at 17 and is the holder of some of the most iconic Knockouts ever. Where the Spiders GOAT debate falls off is the fact he has continued his career too long quite simply, he has deteriorated before the eyes of everyone in the MMA world, he has one win in his last five and has dropped far out of contention for the title or even a shot with many contenders above him.
There are also many retired fighters who may have a say in the GOAT debate and that includes the recent inductee the hall of fame Georges St-Pierre. GSP had it all as a fighter, he was the king of the welterweight for a long time, faced solid opponents, welded a whole host of skills with a special jab and HOF wrestling. To some he will go down as the best just for putting Canadian MMA on the map but the debate will is still there however, if the Canadian came back and made the super-fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov which is rumored to be GSP's only remaining aspirations in the sport and came out with the win there will not be much argument to the GOAT debate by anyone.
Finally, the best in contention in my opinion for the crown of the greatest of all time is Jon Jones and Khabib Nurmagomedov. The argument for Khabib is strong with the Russian having a terrifying skill set which no one has been able to solve, resulting in the Dagestani native imposing his will on all of his opponents with an official 28-0 record leading up to his fight with the impressive Justin Gatchje. In regards to Jon Jones and his career there is also little space to criticise his dominating career so far, he stands at 21-1 (Dubious DQ loss via rule which since has been abolished) and bullied the UFC light heavyweight division from early in his career and he would be without a doubt the GOAT in my books if it was not for the fact it is almost like he is trying to mess up his legacy with numerous different PED related issues and run in's with the law. In terms of how both fighters can push ahead of the chasing pack, I believe if Jon jumps up a division to heavyweight which is very much being discussed and dominates some top contenders he will be very, very hard to catch and the same subject goes of Khabib, if the Russian beats a few more contenders and gets a win a big fight in a different division the argument will also be hard to make that he is not the GOAT.
Finally, taking a step back at the whole greatest of all time situation there are a number of factors that must be taken into account and out of the cage factors must also be taken into account but for outright domination in the cage, my two leading horses are as mentioned above, Khabib and Jon Jones. So far both fighters in fans eyes are undefeated, have dominating unsolved skill sets, key highlight wins with the eagle making short work of fan favorite McGregor and Jon beating shoe in future hall of famer Daniel Cormier back to back, plus both have held UFC gold for extended for a long period of time. However, the reason there are so many contenders for the debate is the picture is always changing and events can take place that shift positions in the debate therefore you can never say with certain someone is the best ever for an extended period of time.