Dana White’s UFC Pound-for-Pound King Is All-Inclusive
Ask five different people who the number-one pound-for-pound fighter in the world is and you could hear five different answers. Five different answers with their own merits. Chris Weidman defeated the former number-one pound-for-pound fighter…twice. Renan Barao has won four straight title fights and hasn’t lost since his debut in 2005. Jose Aldo also hasn’t lost since 2005, and has won nine consecutive title fights between the UFC and WEC. For all intents and purposes, Jon Jones is undefeated, and his of eight consecutive title fight victories includes wiping out nearly every name in the UFC’s marquee division. And we haven’t considered Demetrious Johnson, Cain Velasquez, or (gulp) Ronda Rousey).
Those five people may give you five different answers, but each probably holds their opinion with some conviction. That’s not so for Dana White, who may give you five different answers in as many days. Let’s look at Dana’s number-one pound-for-pound fighter over the last year:
July 5, 2013 – Anderson Silva/Georges St-Pierre (via Yahoo! Sports)
“It’s a fight for the pound-for-pound best in the world. What’s crazy to me is GSP opted to take a very dangerous fight at 170 without trying to take a dangerous fight at 185.”
White was speaking on the latest failed attempt at putting together a superfight between Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre. White had declared Silva the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world as far back as 2008 after he defeated Dan Henderson. Chris Weidman would knock out Silva two days later.
July 8, 2013 – Jon Jones (via Bleacher Report)
When asked who was the new top pound-for-pound fighter after Silva’s loss, White answered, “Jon Jones.”
White maintained that thinking through September, when the official UFC Twitter account listed his top five pound-for-pound as…
January 17, 2014 – Renan Barao* (via Bloody Elbow)
Leading in to UFC 169, White declared, “If Barao goes out and stops Faber, he’s probably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.” Barao would go on to do just that, stopping Faber less than four minutes into their February 1st bout.
January 25, 2014 – Chris Weidman* (via Yahoo! Sports)
But not so fast! While dishing details on Weidman’s title defense against Vitor Belfort (now Lyoto Machida) on either Memorial Day or July 4th Weekend (it’s the latter), White now had a new theoretical top guy. “[If Weidman beats Belfort] he’s the best. He’s No. 1. How is he not No. 1 pound-for-pound in the world if he beats Vitor Belfort?” White exclaimed. “It’s impossible not to call him the No. 1 pound-for-pound guy.” No word if this decree holds true for Machida.
April 26, 2014 – Jon Jones (via Ariel Helwani with whatever outlet he’s working for in this video)
Following Jones’ deconstruction of Glover Teixiera, White re-anoints him as the pound-for pound king: “[Jones is] definitely the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.”
May 12, 2014 – Jon Jones? Renan Barao? Who Knows? (via MMA Mania)
During White’s scrum following UFC Fight Night 40:
“I still go back-and-forth with the Jon Jones, Renan Barao thing. I still, without a doubt, think Renan Barao is the No. 2 ranked (pound-for-pound fighter). After Jones’s last performance, he looked so damn good. And he just buzz-sawed through all the big names at 205. Even before that I was calling Barao the No. 1 pound-for-pound, but he is without a doubt the No. 2 pound-for-pound guy in the world.”
Since Silva’s loss to Weidman, White has labeled three separate fighters as his top pound-for-pound fighter. This despite none of those fighters losing a fight in the interim, and also never once mentioning Aldo, who likely has a better case than both Barao and Weidman, on merit.
It’s another example of the UFC’s “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME” marketing. We can attach these labels (and it’s not just White; just listen for Joe Rogan citing the ubiquitous “a lot of people” during hype videos) to anyone at any time and they’re all really good fighters so, I mean, who is going to question it even though I gave you a different answer last week and I’m just waiting to declare Ronda Rousey as the pound-for-pound best for her next fight before talking about how she can beat up Cain Velasquez and Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Godzilla all at once and you should probably watch another sport if you disagree with me because you just don’t know the fight game like I do.
Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter.