If 31-year-old American UFC fighter Jon “Bones” Jones downs Brazilian Thiago Santos this weekend at UFC 239 in Las Vegas, there will be little room left for debate. Jones will up his record to 25-1, with one no contest, and it should be noted his only loss was because of a disqualification for illegal use of elbows. UFC president Dana White dropped a bomb earlier this week, stating he was going to ask the Nevada State Athletic Commission to overturn the loss, which took place in 2009 against Matt Hamill and featured Jones pummelling the fighter for most of the first round. Where that would leave the MMA world, if Jones beats Santos, is well into unequivocal territory: Jones will become the greatest MMA fighter of all time. This also leaves the sport in an unusual spot as Jones is also easily one of UFC’s most decisive and polarising figures. The only fighter the UFC has atop Jones on its pound-for-pound rankings is Daniel Cormier, a fighter Jones has beaten twice, and would probably trounce again if there were a trilogy match. Statistically, Jones has the numbers to compete with Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva, but it’s in watching Jones where his case becomes strongest. Jones’ last title defence was against Anthony Smith at UFC 235 in March, and saw the light heavyweight chop away at Smith like a lumberjack with his long legs, eating away at his foundation and then breaking his guard as Smith tried to stop a wave of onslaughts. Smith – who has at times made premier fighters in the division look silly – had no response. Jones quite simply is on another level. His fight against Smith was “vintage Jon Jones” as UFC commentator Joe Rogan noted during the match, and this is indicative of his career, making elite fighters look amateur. The BIGGEST night of fights! ☠️ @JonnyBones , meet @TMarretaMMA ⤵️ #UFC239 pic.twitter.com/7hdapuKoY0 — UFC (@ufc) July 4, 2019 <!--//--><![CDATA[// ><!--\n\n\n//--><!]]> The stats back it up. In the fight, Jones threw 287 total strikes, landing at an 87 per cent efficiency rate. Smith threw 75, and only landed 60 per cent. Jones also landed 125 signature strikes at a 75 per cent rating, while Smith landed 36 at a 55 per cent rating. Jones also took down Smith three times, trying eight times and at one point basically picked him up like a dummy and dropped him on his head like a rag doll. Smith didn’t even get a chance to attempt a takedown as he spent most of the fight with his back against the wall, literally and figuratively. Basically the statistical analysis of the fight paints a numerical picture of a beat down. The debate would be over at this moment if there wasn’t a massive asterisk hanging over Jones in the form of multiple indiscretions outside the octagon and character traits many faithful to the ideologies of mixed martial arts would deem suspect. UFC fans know the stories all too well: arrested for driving under the influence, a hit-and-run, multiple failed drug tests. His reputation as a party boy was well documented earlier in his career, something he has appeared to shed in the past few years, but still stands as one of the reasons many have trouble finding their way on to his bandwagon. One of the most anecdotal but substantiated arguments against Jones within the MMA community is that he squandered what is obviously God-given talent throughout parts of his career. Imbued with the physical prowess to unleash on fighters like a clinical assassin, some of his title fights looked like he wasn’t even breaking a sweat. Purists don’t like the fact he supposedly hasn’t had to put in the hard work it would normally take a champion to reign supreme and instead got by on his innate ability to destroy his opponents with raw talent. Now, well into a new chapter of his life, Jones is training his backside off like any other UFC champion, but for years, he got away with phoning in fights, some of them title bouts. Jones admitted he used to go out and get hammered the week before a fight as a potential scapegoat if he lost. The fact that he was able to do this, and still win pretty much all of his previous contests in convincing fashion, must irk some within the community to a point beyond redemption. When it comes to the tenants of MMA’s philosophy and faith, this way of life is sacrilegious. The debate around whether he is the greatest of all time may be over this weekend if he chalks up another convincing win against Santos, but his legacy still remains a tarnished image, covered up in polish and shine to some.