Jon Jones remains No. 1 pound-for-pound even as Islam Makhachev provides a significant challenge

In his illustrious career, Jon Jones, the reigning UFC heavyweight champion, has defended his belt against one man (Brandon Vera) who has held the ONE Fighting Championship heavyweight title; another against a man (Ryan Bader) who has held both the Bellator heavyweight and light heavyweight titles; six men who have held the UFC light heavyweight title (Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort and Daniel Cormier); one against Cormier, who also held the UFC heavyweight title; and one against Ciryl Gane, who was the UFC's interim heavyweight champion.

He's 27-1 and should be 28-0, having gotten incorrectly disqualified in a fight with Matt Hamill in 2009.

If you're wondering, that's why Jones has been regarded by most experts as the greatest MMA fighter in the sport's nearly 30-year history, and it's also why he remains No. 1 on the Yahoo Sports pound-for-pound rankings despite Islam Makhchev's serious challenge.

Makhachev has made a spirited bid to become the world's No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter. He's 25-1 and coming off a first-round knockout of featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 294. He's done a lot more to earn the spot, but more on that in a second. For one more moment, let's look at what Jones has done.

He's 10-0 with seven finishes against those men who have held titles in either the UFC, Bellator or ONE. He's never been in danger or close to losing in any of those fights. He's dominated great fighters like they were beginners.

Jones faces former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 11 in the main event of UFC 295. Miocic is widely regarded as the greatest heavyweight in UFC history, continuing a run of elite opponents for Jones.

Makhachev's current run is impressive. Since his only loss, a first-round KO loss to Adriano Martins on Oct. 3, 2015, in Houston, Texas, at UFC 192, Makhachev has reeled off 13 wins in a row, finishing eight of them.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCTOBER 21: Islam Makhachev of Russia reacts after his knockout victory against Alexander Volkanovski of Australia in the UFC lightweight championship fight during the UFC 294 event at Etihad Arena on October 21, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Islam Makhachev knocked out Alex Volkanovski in their rematch and claimed his spot in the Yahoo Sports pound-for-pound rankings. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

His most recent three wins are his most impressive and all came within the last year. He won the title from Charles Oliveira at UFC 280 on Oct. 22, 2022, submitting him with an arm triangle in the second round. At the time, Oliveira had won 11 in a row and was coming off wins over Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje.

Makhachev then won a decision over Volkanovski in a champion-versus-champion bout at UFC 284 in February and won the rematch with a head-kick knockout at UFC 294.

He's close to being No. 1, but Jones has beaten higher level opposition for a longer period of time. Two of his opponents, Evans and Cormier, are already in the modern fighters' wing of the UFC Hall of Fame.

Given the way Makhachev has been performing, it seems a given that at some point he'll be the consensus No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

Now is not that time, though. Yahoo Sports stands behind UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter alive.

Men’s MMA pound-for-pound rankings as of Nov 1.

1. Jon Jones (27-1), UFC heavyweight champion. Previous Ranking: 1.
2. Islam Makhachev (25-1), UFC lightweight champion. Previous Ranking: 3.
3. Alexander Volkanovski (25-3), UFC featherweight champion. Previous Ranking: 2.
4. Leon Edwards (21-3), UFC welterweight champion. Previous Ranking: 4.
5. Khamzat Chimaev (13-0) UFC middleweight contender. Previous Ranking: 5.
6. Sean O’Malley (17-1) UFC bantamweight champion. Previous Ranking: 6.
7. Charles Oliveira (33-9), former UFC lightweight champion. Previous Ranking: 8.
8. Kamaru Usman (20-4), former UFC welterweight champion. Previous Ranking: 7.
9. Justin Gaethje (25-4), UFC BMF champion. Previous Ranking: 9.
10. Israel Adesanya (24-3), former UFC middleweight champion. Previous Ranking: 10.

Women’s MMA pound-for-pound rankings as of Nov. 1

1. Julianna Peña (12-5), UFC bantamweight contender. Previous Ranking: 1.
2. Alexa Grasso (16-3), UFC flyweight champion. Previous Ranking: 2.
3. Valentina Shevchenko (23-4), former UFC flyweight champion. Previous Ranking: 3.
4. Zhang Weili (24-3), UFC strawweight champion. Previous Ranking: 4.
5. Cris "Cyborg" Justino (27-2), Bellator featherweight champion. Previous Ranking: NR.
6. Erin Blanchfield (11-1), UFC flyweight contender. Previous Ranking: 5.
7. Manon Fiorot (11-1), UFC flyweight contender. Previous Ranking: 6.
8. Tatiana Suarez (10-0), UFC strawweight contender. Previous Ranking: 7.
9. Raquel Pennington (15-8), UFC bantamweight contender. Previous Ranking: 8.
10. Larissa Pacheco (21-4), 2022 PFL lightweight champion. Previous Ranking: 9.