Who is the MMA GOAT? The argument began intensifying after Khabib Nurmagomedov retired in October 2020. Khabib's fans proclaimed him the GOAT, but the debate became intense as Jon Jones and Georges St-Pierre's names came into the mix.
Here's a look at the top three GOAT contenders.
Khabib 'The Eagle' Nurmagomedov
A man with arguably the most unblemished record in MMA. No losses, no controversial decisions, complete domination over every opponent he ever faced. Khabib Nurmagomedov has a professional record of 29-0 in MMA.
Often proclaimed by fans as the GOAT, the two-time World Combat Sambo Champion made his professional debut in 2008. He made his UFC debut in 2012 with an already impressive record of 16-0. Khabib went on to win all of his 13 fights, became UFC Lightweight Champion and retired undefeated.
'The Eagle' has been a role model for many, never partaking in trash talk and always respectful towards his opponents. The only exception being Conor McGregor. The only real issue for Khabib has been the many cancelations and postponements throughout his career. His fight with Tony Ferguson was canceled five times and never materialized.
Georges 'Rush' St-Pierre
Few athletes in MMA have achieved what Georges St-Pierre has. GSP was a four-time All-Canadian Open Junior Kumite Champion before making his professional debut in 2002 and his UFC debut in 2004.
He has lost only twice in 28 fights as a professional. His first loss came at the hands of Matt Hughes at UFC 50 in 2004 and his second loss was to Matt Serra at UFC 69 in 2007. GSP avenged both his losses.
is record-setting career saw him become a three-time UFC champion. He won the welterweight belt twice and defended it nine consecutive times before retiring. He made a comeback in 2017 and won the middleweight title against Michael Bisping. Until recently, he held the record for the longest winning streak in welterweight history.
GSP is not only a legend inside the octagon but outside of it as well. He has always been a great ambassador for the sport and played a role in bringing USADA into the fold. It's not surprising, then, to see why GSP is among the front runners in the GOAT conversation.
Jon 'Bones' Jones
One of the most successful and controversial MMA athletes of all time, former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was the poster boy of the UFC for years. Jones made his pro debut in 2008 and racked up six wins before signing with the UFC. He made his octagon debut in the same year at UFC 87.
Jones has built up a prolific resume over the years. Legends such as Lyoto Machida, Quintin 'Rampage' Jackson, Mauricio Rua and others have all come up short against him.
Jones's career has had its ups and downs. Jones has been suspended thrice, once in 2015 due to a hit-and-run incident, and twice for doping violations in 2016 and 2017.
Interestingly, other than a disqualification loss against Matt Hamil and a no-contest against Daniel Cormier, Jones has technically remained undefeated for over 12 years. Jones has been vocal on social media that he sees himself as the GOAT.
The Fallacy of the GOAT Argument
Fighters like Jones, St-Pierre, Khabib, Silva and a few others are the best in the business. They hold numerous records and have legendary title runs. However, it's also true that the sport itself keeps moving forward and evolving.
Current welterweight king Kamaru Usman is already closing in on GSP's various welterweight records. Usman broke St-Pierre's record for consecutive victories in his 3rd title defense and now has a winning streak of 14, compared to GSP's 13. He is also looking to defend his title for the 5th time later this year in his rematch against Colby Covington.
Israel Adesanya has also been making waves since making his UFC debut in 2018. Apart from a close fight with Kelvin Gastelum, Izzy barely broke a sweat as he demolished everyone on his path to becoming the UFC middleweight champion. His only loss was to current light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz. Adesanya has also expressed his desire to retire as the GOAT.
When we are trying to find the GOAT, we should also remember names such as Jose Aldo. Aldo still holds the record for longest-reigning featherweight champion, is still active and is trying to fight his way to another shot at the bantamweight title.
You may very well consider either of these legends, the GOAT, but for how long? Because in a sport that's constantly changing, no one person can keep the crown. We could say that the MMA GOAT may not even have set foot inside the octagon yet.