If anyone has earned their stripes in the UFC , it is Jon “Bones” Jones. The 33-year-old American (26-1, one no contest) is the sport’s greatest fighter of all-time, the debate is pretty much open and shut. Jones’ mixed martial arts career is filled with epic fights against epic opponents, all of which he has won (bar a controversial disqualification for illegal elbows against Matt Hamill in 2009). Alexander Gustafsson, Daniel Cormier, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, Quinton Jackson, Mauricio Rua – not only did Jones beat them, he beat them in their primes, and he beat some of them multiple times. His eclectic, artistic, once in a generation fighting style has been an absolute treat for fans to watch, combining a high level of technical skill with crowd-pleasing flourishes. Along with Conor McGregor and Georges St-Pierre, he helped the UFC break into the mainstream sports audience. He has shown he is the king, defending his crown, and has taken on challengers time and again, producing the same result. In the game, he has earned the right to be heard, and taken seriously when he asks for something, no bones about it. Let’s throw aside Jones’ actions outside the Octagon for a second: the arrests, the failed drug tests, the questionable behaviour that has plagued his career and image which many believe knocks him down a peg on the all-time ladder. Take that away, and he shines head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to the UFC – no one has done what he has done, over such an extended amount of time. Fighters like Khabib Nurmagomedov are close, but Jones has relentlessly sought out the best, taking on multiple fights a year at times, and demolished his opponents. Jones is the Michael Jordan of mixed martial arts; love him or hate him, the debate isn’t around who is the greatest, it is who is second in line. UFC: Adesanya’s ‘advice’ to Jones – ‘watch Francis break you’ With that in mind let’s bring ourselves to the present day in the UFC. Jones has walked away from the light heavyweight belt like he said he was going to do, setting up Dominick Reyes vs Jan Blachowicz at UFC 253 on September 26. Dana White’s announcement on ESPN that Jones will have to get in line behind Francis Ngannou to fight heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic doesn’t add up in a lot of ways. In re-watching Miocic’s fight with Ngannou in early 2018 at UFC 220, it’s clear who the better fighter was. Miocic humbled the aggressive Cameroonian-Frenchman who has built his career on intimidation and a brawler’s mentality, looking to land power punches as a one-trick pony. Miocic was neither intimidated, nor was he even remotely scared of going up against such a physical striker. Ngannou got saved by the bell a couple times in the fight, and it was essentially five rounds of a clinic by Miocic, the American of Croatian descent hammering him up against the wall, taking him down, mauling him and overpowering him consistently. Ngannou landed a couple of shots throughout the 25 minutes, but the decision for Miocic doesn’t tell the full story: Ngannou was utterly outfought and outthought. So, what has changed in two-plus years? Miocic (20-3) lost to Daniel Cormier (22-3, one no contest) at UFC 226 in July of 2018, a shock TKO in the first round. He followed that up with two wins against “DC”, settling their trilogy with a convincing unanimous decision at UFC 252 last weekend, keeping the belt and showing his prowess, patience and technical efficiency against one of the all-time greats at heavyweight and light heavyweight who was looking for a fairytale ending to his career. In the meantime, Ngannou (15-3) has been on a tear, as “The Predator” ran off four straight knockout victories with wins over Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. In total, it took him less than three minutes to finish all of them. Look, that is impressive, and sure, he has beaten three former UFC heavyweight champs. But the Ngannou fluffed his lines in his moment of truth, and the 33-year-old has never done anything like what Jones has. Jones’ standing guillotine choke at UFC 140 in 2011 against Machida, whom many thought was the future of the division and potential face of the MMA world, was as earth shattering as it was beautifully violent. This has been indicative of Jones’ career – contenders come looking for his crown, and he dismantles them, and sometimes, beats them so badly he thoroughly embarrasses them. Machida was never the same fighter after the loss, the first submission of his career. Ngannou does not have this resume, nor boast these types of accolades – he has no wins against anyone who was billed as the future of a division, or heralded as the next big thing. He does have five “Performance of the Night” wins, but there is a difference between putting on crowd-pleasing fights once in awhile and dominating a heavily-contested division for close to a decade. There is little debate Jones can move up a weight class; fighters tend to put on the pounds as they age, so he won’t need to cut as much and will be fresh. No one is denying Miocic vs Ngannou won’t be a good fight, but here’s the thing, when you are the greatest of all time, one of the things you get is the ears of the sport. So listen up, Dana – Jones wants Miocic, make it happen. “Bones” has earned it after all these years.