Love him or hate him, Jon Jones made a triumphant return at UFC 285 in March to cement his status as the greatest fighter in MMA history by becoming a two-division champion.
Does that automatically mean Jones reclaimed his status as the current pound-for-pound best fighter in the world following a three-year layoff? Not so fast.
Jones, 35, should get every opportunity to do just that after easily dispatching Cyril Gane for the UFC heavyweight title that was recently vacated by Francis Ngannou after he and the promotion were unable to come to terms on a new deal. But for now, Jones' 124-second dismantling of Gane leaves plenty of lingering questions as to just how dominant he can still be in a new division with nearly 50 pounds added to his frame.
That doesn't mean Jones' return was anything short of impressive. Considering the layoff, it undoubtedly was. It's just that Jones' strength as a grappler matched up so perfectly with Gane's glaring weakness on the ground that the dominant submission win proved to be somewhat anticlimactic.
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Jones called out former heavyweight king Stipe Miocic after the fight, which should provide a deeper look as to where "Bones" exactly is, as could future title defenses against the likes of Curtis Blaydes, Sergei Pavlovich or Tom Aspinall, should Jones continue to win and defend his crown.
The one thing Jones did prove was just how much of a gamer he continues to be. Regardless of layoffs, controversies and constant questions regarding his personal character, Jones remains just as unflappable inside the Octagon as he has always been.
When it comes to greatness, that's the very definition, which is why few are questioning whether Jones deserves to stand alone as the sport's G.O.A.T. But in order to separate himself from contemporary champions like Alexander Volkanovski and Islam Makhachev, he will need to stay active and successful.
Using a criteria that takes into account everything from accomplishments to current form, let's take a closer look at the top fighters inside the Octagon.
For CBS Sports' updated divisional rankings, click here.
Men's pound-for-pound rankings
1. Alexander Volkanovski -- Featherweight champion (24-2)
Previous ranking: No. 1
The striking wizard proved his wrestling is just as world class in a close loss to lightweight champion Islam Makhachev at UFC 284. Volkanovski retained his crown as best in the sport, for now, but things will only get more difficult from here as newly crowned interim featherweight champion Yair Rodriguez is likely next.
We just witnessed an ALL TIMER 🙌 #UFC284 pic.twitter.com/Abd1D0T24S— UFC (@ufc) February 12, 2023
2. Islam Makhachev -- Lightweight champion (24-1)
Previous ranking: 3
Lost in his victory over defending featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, and the subsequent fallout of dispute over the fight's scoring, was just how incredibly Makhachev has grown as a striker. His pinpoint accuracy and poise was able to prevent Volkanovski from edging him, even as his preferred wrestling game was stifled.
The new world P4P #1 and NOBODY can take that away from @MakhachevMMA 💪 #UFC284 pic.twitter.com/FLoq82H05E— UFC (@ufc) February 12, 2023
3. Jon Jones -- Heavyweight champion (27-1, 1 NC)
Previous ranking: NR
With nearly 50 pounds of added weight following a long-awaited move up to heavyweight, Jones removed any fears of cage rust after three years away by quickly finishing Cyril Gane at UFC 285 to become a two-division champion. At 35, Jones' return coincided perfectly for the promotion with the exit of Francis Ngannou.
THE GREATEST. #UFC285 pic.twitter.com/4pZ7YLw9dF— UFC (@ufc) March 5, 2023
4. Kamaru Usman -- Welterweight (20-2)
Previous ranking: No. 3
Usman looked on his way to a sixth title defense and a tie with Anderson Silva for consecutive UFC wins until a miraculous head-kick knockout from Leon Edwards in Round 5 shocked the world at UFC 278. A trilogy bout is set for March 18 in London where the 35-year-old Usman, who yielded the first takedown of his career in the opening round against Edwards, will get his shot at redemption.
5. Israel Adesanya -- Middleweight champion (23-2)
Previous ranking: No. 4
Despite leading on all three scorecards in his UFC 281 title defense against long-time kickboxing rival Alex Pereira, Adesanya succumbed to a fifth-round stoppage for his first loss at middleweight inside the Octagon. An immediate rematch is set for April 8 even though Pereira now owns three victories over Adesanya across two combat sports.
6. Aljamain Sterling -- Bantamweight champion (22-3)
Previous ranking: No. 5
One fight after shutting his critics up by outpointing Petr Yan in their title rematch, Sterling's second title defense produced largely inconclusive results. While history will always show a second-round TKO win for Sterling against TJ Dillashaw, the former champion entered with a badly injured shoulder that was reaggravated seconds in.
7. Alex Pereira -- Middleweight champion (7-1)
Previous ranking: 6
At 35, making a late transition from kickboxing into MMA, it was hard to project just how good the Brazilian slugger might be. But just four fights into his UFC career, "Poaton" lived up to his "hands of stone" moniker by stopping middleweight king Israel Adesanya in Round 5 to capture the 185-pound crown in November. A rematch is set for UFC 287.
Took it out of the judges hands & won it with his own 👊@AlexPereiraUFC's title winning KO at #UFC281 is your first nominee for #UFCHonors Fan Choice Comeback of the Year!— UFC (@ufc) December 17, 2022
[ 🏆 #UFCHonors | Presented By @ToyoTires ] pic.twitter.com/wiNkHJjSav
8. Jiri Prochazka -- Light heavyweight champion (29-3-1)
Previous ranking: No. 7
The unpredictable Prochazka achieved his full due of critical respect after extending his win streak to 13 in a dramatic and savage fifth-round submission of Glover Teixeira at UFC 275. But Prochazka, who is 23-1-1 since 2013, suffered a serious shoulder injury which pulled him from the rematch and led to him vacating the belt. A late 2023 return could be in the cards depending upon the length of his recovery.
9. Charles Oliveira -- Lightweight (33-9)
Previous ranking: 8
Was the Brazilian finish machine's one-sided title loss to Islam Mahkachev the result of a bad stylistic matchup or did Oliveira's reckless and dramatic ways finally catch up to him? Either way, the 33-year-old will be forced to regroup after a remarkable 11-fight win streak that won't be forgotten anytime soon.
10. Leon Edwards -- Welterweight champion (20-3, 1 NC)
Previous ranking: 9
A true life "Rocky" story played out in front of the eyes of MMA fans when the often overlooked Edwards rallied to stop Kamaru Usman in dramatic fashion at UFC 278. Edwards extended his unbeaten streak to 11 fights since his 2015 defeat to Usman and now sets for a trilogy fight in London against Usman at UFC 286 in March.
LOOK AT HIM NOW!!— UFC (@ufc) August 21, 2022
Hear what @Leon_EdwardsMMA had to say after shocking the world at #UFC278 🌎 pic.twitter.com/FZcckzIf30
Dropped out: Brandon Moreno
Just missed: Moreno, Robert Whittaker, Jamahal Hill, Dustin Poirier, Cyril Gane, Yair Rodriguez
Women's pound-for-pound rankings
1. Amanda Nunes -- Two-division champion (21-4)
Previous ranking: No. 1
Nunes soundly outpointed a stubborn Julianna Pena at UFC 277 to regain her 135-pound title and remind everyone of her G.O.A.T. ways. The victory was also a big one considering Nunes, after leaving American Top Team, started her own gym and changed her style. A rumored bantamweight title defense against Irene Aldana is targeted for UFC 285.
🦁 @Amanda_Leoa just became the first woman in UFC history score three knockdowns in a single fight! #UFC277 pic.twitter.com/YVnWxLdkFW— UFC (@ufc) July 31, 2022
2. Rose Namajunas -- Strawweight (11-5)
Previous ranking: No. 3
A baffling strategy of defensive circling led to Namajunas surrendering her 115-pound title to inaugural champion Carla Esparza in their May rematch. Namajunas was barely touched in her unanimous decision loss. An inevitable trilogy looms with new champion Zhang Weili, whom Namajunas has defeated twice.
3. Zhang Weili -- Strawweight (23-3)
Previous ranking: No. 4
The first Chinese-born UFC champion regained her 115-pound crown by dominating Carla Esparza at UFC 281 via second-round submission. The victory showcased Zhang's continued improvement in her grappling game yet she won't truly gain recognition as the best strawweight in the sport until she can avenge a pair of losses to Namajunas.
4. Alexa Grasso – Flyweight champion (16-3)
Previous ranking: NR
The former strawweight contender shocked the world by becoming the first flyweight to defeat Valentina Shevchenko in a massive upset at UFC 285. In doing so, Grasso became the first female Mexican-born champion in UFC history. Unbeaten in five fights at 125 pounds, Grasso was successful in turning the division upside down.
ALEXA GRASSO HAS SUBMITTED VALENTINA SHEVCHENKO!!— UFC (@ufc) March 5, 2023
WE HAVE A NEW FLYWEIGHT CHAMPION 👑🇲🇽 #UFC285 pic.twitter.com/t4HMH5vXnw
5. Valentina Shevchenko – Flyweight (23-4)
Previous ranking: No. 2
Her first defeat in six years brought an end to Shevchenko's dominant title reign at 125 pounds following a UFC female record seven title defenses. The fourth-round submission loss to Alexa Grasso at UFC 285 was nothing short of shocking. It remains to be seen whether an immediate rematch is in her future.
Dropped out: Jessica Andrade
Just missed: Andrade, Julianna Pena, Carla Esparza, Amanda Lemos, Taila Santos, Manon Fiorot