International fight week always brings with it the promise of a blockbuster event and the UFC did not let us down this year. Two of the greatest of all time in Amanda Nunes and Jon ‘Bones’ Jones will be defending their prestigious belts on a stacked card at UFC 239 in Las Vegas. In order to hype this event, the UFC has been focusing it’s advertising campaign around the idea of the G.O.A.T (Greatest of all time). The company has been publishing endless videos of various MMA personalities emotively preaching how these two untouchable fighters are the best the sport has ever seen. This got me thinking, could a statistical model be devised to reasonably conclude who the true G.O.A.T is, male or female, past the sensationalist pleas of ‘Nobody can stop him’, ‘She’s a killer’ and other one liners used to sell a fight or fighter. I believe I’ve came up with a solution to this age old question.
Who is considered? What is the criteria?
I have chosen who I believe are the five best fighters in UFC history: Jon Jones, Amanda Nunes, Anderson Silva, Dimetreous Johnson and George St. Pierre. These fighters will end with a total score, with 97 being the maximum and 0 being the minimum. Whoever has the highest tally will be considered the G.O.A.T.
The categories which will be analysed are the following accompanied by their value in this assessment: Most title bout wins (35) , UFC win % (35), method of victory (25), Double champ accomplishment (2), PED use (-3)
Disclaimers: No other statistics I believe are relevant (eg. takedown defense, Significant strike accuracy, most PPV buys etc.) as it really only matters if you win, who your beating and how convincingly you do it. I believe that the title bout wins is as important as total record as it reflects how well the competitor done at their peak and against high level competition but the full body of work needs to be considered also as longevity is a vital element. Without any further ramblings here were the results.
Most title bout wins
This was calculated by taking the highest number of title wins, in this case George St. Pierre and dividing the other fighters win number by this and translating them into a score out of 35.
- George St. Pierre-13 wins : 35 points
- Demetrius Jonson- 12 wins: 32.3 points
- Jon ‘Bones’ Jones- 12 wins: 32.3
- Anderson Silva- 11 wins: 29.6 points
- Amanda Nunes- 5 wins: 13.4 points
One striking note to make about the first round of results is just how low Amanda Nunes scored despite being 5-0 in title bouts. However when reading this it has to be taken into account we are talking about the greatest of all time, that means they competed at the highest level for a long time consistently. That is not to say that in a few years, Amanda Nunes won’t prove herself as a dominant long time champion but for now its fair to say that she has not yet stood the test of time like the other fighters have, despite the caliber of opponent she has beaten.
UFC win %
Again this will be calculated against the best UFC win percentage out of the five. Here only UFC fights are counted, as the standard is variable outside the UFC it would be unfair to include other promotions.
- Jon ‘Bones’ Jones- 94.47%: 35 points
- Amanda Nunes – 90.91%: 33.7 points
- George St. Pierre- 90.91%: 33.7 points
- Demetrius Johnson- 83.3%: 30.87 points
- Anderson Silva- 73.9%: 27.4 points
This category is very close, with almost all sporting near flawless records. Jon Jones tops the list with a staggering 18-1 in the UFC, his only loss being a controversial DQ to Matt Hamill. Anderson Silva is at the bottom mainly due to his current form at the twilight of his career, even though he can still hang, he has fallen just short of the mark in recent bouts against up and comers like Israel Adesanya and Jared Cannonier.
Method of Victory
Here we take into account, broadly speaking, how decisive/impressive a victory was by assigning values to each method of victory. For example a KO/TKO/Submission is worth 10, a unanimous decision is worth 8 and a split or majority decision is worth 5. These figures will be used to calculate a victory score for each fighter. Each fighters score will then be compared against the person with the highest victory score and translated into points out of 25.
- Anderson Silva- victory score 96.5: 25 points
- Amanda Nunes- victory score 93.1: 24.1 points
- Jon ‘Bones’ Jones – victory score 91.1: 23.6 points
- Demetrious Jonson- victory score 87.3: 22.6 points
- George St Pierre – victory score 84.4: 21.9 points
Once again It was super tight here the whole way down. It’s no surprise to see the devastating Anderson Silva topping this list, with almost all of his UFC wins coming from Submission or Knockout. Where as GSP, known for his wrestling ability, was much more likely to grind out a hard 5 round decision than put his opponents to sleep.
This category is short and sweet. If you have won a title in two weight divisions you get 2 points, easy as.
- Amanda Nunes – Yes – 2 points
- George St. Pierre- Yes- 2 points
- Anderson Silva- No- 0 points
- Jon ‘Bones’ Jones – No – 0 points
- Demetrious Johnson- No- 0 points
Performance enhancing drugs
Unfortunately this topic has to be addressed in this conversation. Although it makes for juicy news when it happens, as a fan it leaves a very uncertain question mark looming over the topic as you wonder how much of an athlete’s success comes down to PEDS, for how many fights have they been taking them, which tests were from previous times etc. For this reason I’ve chosen to take 3 points, regardless of the number of incidents for every fighter that has been charged by the athletic commission and suspended for PED use.
- Jon ‘bones’ Jones – yes – (-3) points
- Anderson Silva – yes – (-3) points
- Demetrious Johnson – no – 0 points
- George St. Pierre – no – 0 points
- Amanda Nunes – no – 0 points
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for!
From these five categories here is the G.O.A.T rankings listed in order based on the metrics used.
- George St. Pierre – 92.6
- Jon ‘Bones’ Jones 87.9
- Demetrius Johnson – 85.8
- Anderson Silva 79
- Amanda Nunes 73.2
And there you have it, George St. Pierre is the G.O.A.T according to this metric. I believe based on his UFC record, his time spent at the top, what he accomplished in the sport and the fact that he was always a clean athlete (as far as we know) makes him the greatest of all time. However these are only numbers. Can you really quantify when Silva uses Jedi like head movement to evade his opponents and then slap a front kick out of nowhere for the knockout? Can you really measure the diversity of strikes Jones has in his arsenal, the Power of Amanda Nunes and the technical mastery of Dimitrius Johnson? One things for sure, the two fighters putting their belts on the line this weekend have more than enough time to surpass the great GSP. If Jones goes up and snatches Daniel Cormier’s Heavyweight belt it will be hard to argue his greatness. If Nunes continues to steam roll the competition in both divisions she could solidify herself as the G.O.A.T. However these are all ‘ifs’ at this point, and for now GSP sits on the atop of the pile.