Friday, April 27, 2012

Champion vs. Champion, who is the best? Part VI

Last weekend when Jon 'Bones' Jones successfully defeated former teammate Rashad Evans at UFC 145, he successfully defended his UFC light-heavyweight (205 lbs.) title. However, by doing so, he did something else as well. He solidified his standing as not just one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world, but also as the best light-heavyweight champion.

In part six of my comparison of champions from the "big" three mixed martial arts organizations here in the U.S., we most likely have the most overwhelming choice of the various weight classes I've reviewed thus far. It's no slight, it's just the truth; besides, with the Strikeforce champion currently in the UFC, that only leaves one other champion and at this point, there is no comparison.

Nonetheless, here are my rankings of the champions at light-heavyweight and what we can expect for the future:

1.) UFC - Jon Jones (16-1, 8 KO's 5 subs)

What is there to say? When you are arguably the number two overall pound for pound fighter in the world, there is no question you are number one on this list. The scary thing is that at just 24 years old, Jon Jones could ultimately end up being the greatest champion of the all before he is through. It is crazy to think that is being said, especially while the great Anderson Silva is still active; but the way he has handled the opposition in the last year, easily outpointing and (or) finishing four former champions, it's not out of the realm.

Last Saturday was supposed to be his stiffest test to date. Although he went in as a favorite, there were many, including myself, who thought Rashad Evans had a chance. I actually believed Evans would defeat Jones using the one thing no one has successfully used a/o yet, wrestling. Alas, Evans chose to stand; why? Your guess is as good as mine. The result was a unanimous lopsided five round decision.

That decision may be the only blemish on his record a/o late where he has routinely finished his opposition either by submission or knockout. His next opponent is the current and (or) last Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson and as great as Henderson's career has been, I believe he won't last past two rounds at best. Jon Jones biggest opposition at this point is Jon Jones. As long as he can maintain his focus, greatness awaits.

2.) Bellator - Christian M'Pumbu (18-4, 7 KO's 8 subs)

There is a lot to like about current Bellator light-heavyweight champion Christian M'Pumbu. A relatively unknown fighter until last spring, the man called 'Tonton' took Bellator by storm as he literally "stormed" through the opposition in their season five light-heavyweight tournament. After three impressive wins, M'Pumbu was crowned champion. However, the excitement has been short lived.

Because of Bellator's tournament run style, M'Pumbu, undersized at this weight class, is forced to wait through this season to see who his first title defense will be against. To keep him busy till that got sorted out, Bellator decided to put him in a non-title super fight. Their formula pulls a veteran with a name in MMA that can give the champ a good fight, but ultimately not be a threat. There is one flaw in the formula; it doesn't always work out that way.

Well fought and traveled veteran Travis Wiuff didn't get the memo he was supposed to lose and defeated the much smaller M'Pumbu via decision. Not the greatest endorsement for a champion when being compared to others; but considering Strikeforce currently doesn't have a champ, or do they? M'Pumbu gets the nod here as the second best "active" champion among the big three.

As for Strikeforce and Dan Henderson; considering his next fight will be against Jones in the UFC for that title, it's obvious he cannot be ranked here as a current champion. At this point, he is Strikeforce's last champion at 205 lbs. and unless something extraordinary happens against Jones, I anticipate former champion because I can see 'Bones' sending the legend into retirement.

Up next will be the final installment where I'll take a look at the big boys.

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