Article originally published February 6th, 2020.
Jon Jones returns to the UFC Octagon this weekend when he defends his light-heavyweight title against Dominik Reyes at the Toyota Center in Houston.
Ahead of the UFC 247 main-event, Jones appeared on First Take, a daily debate show on ESPN.
Responding to questions from Max Kellerman around finishing his career as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, Jones claimed that it’s all a matter of opinion.
However, he feels that if he retired today he’d definitely be in the conversation.
Stephen A. Smith swiftly turned the conversation towards Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov who he described as “not only winners but box office.”
When asked if Jones feels pressure to step into that “box office” role, he praised McGregor for what he’s done for the sport but the light-heavyweight champion doesn’t feel he is among the best to ever do it.
“I look at Khabib and McGregor and I see how internationally known they are,” Jones said.
“It inspires me for sure, to try and work on my branding a little bit more outside of fighting.
“But at the end of the day, for me, it’s not about making the most money, it’s not about being the most famous, it’s about being the guy that people are gonna be talking about 50, 100 years from now.
“That’s really what gets me out of bed in the morning.
“At the end of the day, no disrespect to Conor, because I love what he’s doing for our sport, I don’t think he’s gonna be in the conversation when people are sitting around at a barbershop talking about the greatest martial artists in the world.
“I think the box office stuff will come in time, I’m only 32 but those records are very hard to get.”
Kellerman then asked Jones what he thought of Khabib right now.
While he described the lightweight champion as an amazing fighter, Jones claimed their resumes didn’t compare.
“I think Khabib’s an amazing fighter.
“He’s done a great job representing the UFC. He’s a great ambassador for our sport. But if you were to ask some MMA experts about myself and Khabib, I think most people would be able to tell our resumes are completely different.
“I’ve fought so many world champions over my career and defeated them all. Khabib, a lot of his victories are against people that are relatively unknown.
“I’ve been fighting legends since I was a young man in my early twenties.”