The retirement of Khabib Nurmagomedov sparked a heated discussion of who the GOAT is. MMA has long been obsessed with who the greatest of all time is and have argued to the death. ESPN even had their analysts weigh in on who they thought the top 5 in UFC history are. Names included Khabib, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier, and such.
The community sent out their other names as well. Mighty Mouse, Jose Aldo, and many more were floated in the “who’s the best” contest. With the retirement of Khabib, I think the MMA world has moved into a new era of the definition of GOAT. The sport has officially had athletes with their own claim to the title.
The GOAT of an Era
The NBA is just now coming to realize this. There is no real GOAT in basketball. There are only players who can claim that for their specific era. In basketball there’s Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, LeBron James and others thrown into that conversation. To put it in a perspective MMA fans can understand, it’s like boxing. There is not really a greatest ever. Boxing has been around enough that the rules have changed and there’s no real one. GOAT names include Rocky Marciano, John L, Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather.
Each of the names floated in the MMA GOAT debate have their own claim to the title. Khabib was the definition of perfection. Never lost a fight, was never knocked down, and never even bled in a fight. Jon Jones had the most title fight wins in history. GSP? The perfect model of an MMA fighter. What about Henry Cejudo? UFC two division champion and an Olympic gold medalist. Each are the greatest in their own specific way.
The sport has moved on from a singular best fighter. There are eras of champions that we will have to start measuring these fighters by. This is what the Hall of Fame is for.