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UFC 197 Aftermath: In Which We Debate “Pound-for-Pound” Rankings For the 4,300th Time

(via UFC on FOX)

Following a 15-month absence from the sport that saw him basically break every traffic law known to man, former/still-sort-of-current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones returned to the ring on Saturday to take on heated rival Daniel Cormier Ovince St. Preux for the coveted interim LHW belt, because f*ck it, we’re just giving out interim titles to everyone now! (begins Oprah-style “And YOU get an interim belt!” chant*)

As you might expect, Jones looked every bit as dominant as he always has — outgunning OSP on the feet, the mat, and even throwing some fancy spinning sh*t in there — while still displaying some signs of a man who has spent more of the past year in the court than he has in the cage. If you’re the MMA media, this can only mean one thing: Jon Jones has lost it.

The guy who literally broke his opponent’s arm with a kick in the second round? That wasn’t a guy who would have had a chance at beating Daniel Cormier, according to all the leading experts (chief among whom happens to be, you guessed it, Daniel Cormier). I’m not sure if Cormier would still be injured in the fantasy scenario that we so often like to peddle as “analysis” or even “news” here in the MMA game, but the moral here is that Jon Jones got very lucky on Saturday night. Because REASONS.

Speaking of fantasy scenarios, I suppose it’s time that we dust off those old “pound-for-pound” rankings lists and start acting like they’re a debatable talking point, what with Demetrious Johnson also competing at UFC 197.

You might not know this, but this “Mighty Mouse” guy is good. He’s damn good. He’s so good that if you placed him against a normal person, he’d probably win. At least that’s what I think is being posited by Dana White every time he declares that so-and-so is “the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world” in both the lead-up and aftermath of every flyweight/bantamweight/pre-McGregor featherweight title fight. Yes, the title recently held by both Renan Barao and Anthony Pettis was once again slapped on Johnson prior to his UFC 197 co-headliner with Olympian Henry Cejudo, and thanks to a short but supreme performance, it’s also the talk of the town today.

And look, I get it. We’re the kind of society that will devote thousands of hours of research and countless thinkpieces, video analyses, and blogposts to a battle between two fictional characters who wear capes, so the thought of what a 205-pound Demetrious Johnson could do to, say, Jon Jones (a.k.a “The *other* greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world”) seems pretty intriguing.

The thing is though, it isn’t. To my knowledge, the kind of mind and/or body-swapping technology that would allow two fighters from vastly different weight classes to compete against one another does not exist (except in parts of Japan), leaving the endgame of this discussion ultimately unattainable. Like “Brand Ambassador” or “CagePotato writer,” the title of “Pound-for-pound Greatest” is something we created to place a name on something that only exists in our heads. It means NOTHING, yet it’s the only angle that the UFC has been using to market the flyweight division since its inception. It’s kind of insulting, really, that the value of a guy like DJ can only be determined by comparing him to other fighters. What’s next, a female division based solely around how the champion would do against her male counterpart? Oh, God dammit

But hey, at least we haven’t actually forced the fighters themselves to start discussing these airheaded scenarios yet, right?

Elsewhere on the UFC 197 main card, former pound-for-pound great Anthony Pettis took on Edson Barboza in a fight that almost surely earned the latter a spot on our “future pound-for-pound great” lists. In a relatively one-sided affair, Barboza was consistently quicker on the trigger than Pettis, battering “Showtime” with his patented leg kicks and making sure to land first and last on the majority of the exchanges. As for Pettis, who has now dropped 3 in a row since being declared The Greatest Fighter This Or Any Generation Has Ever Seen™, the future certainly isn’t as promising as it was just a couple years ago. At this rate, I don’t even know if it’s safe to place him on our list of “Greatest Milwaukee-Based Pound-for-Pound Fighters Who Could Probably Beat LeBron James In a Game of Chess,” and that’s a BIG DEAL, you guys.

And finally, TUF Latin America winner Yair Rodriguez once again showed why he is one of the scariest dudes in *any* division by nearly knocking Andre Fili‘s goofy haircut off his head with a flying kick in the second round of their bantamweight tilt. It was ,without a doubt, one of the “Top 10 Pound-For-Pound Greatest Kicks Delivered By A TUF Winner Hailing From Chihuahua, Mexico” ever.

The full results for UFC 197 are below.

Main card
Jon Jones def. Ovince Saint Preux via unanimous decision
Demetrious Johnson def. Henry Cejudo via first-round TKO (2:49)
Edson Barboza def. Anthony Pettis via unanimous decision
Robert Whittaker def. Rafael Natal via unanimous decision
Yair Rodriguez def. Andre Fili via second-round KO (2:15)

Sergio Pettis def. Chris Kelades via unanimous decision
Danny Roberts def. Dominique Steele via unanimous decision
Carla Esparza def. Juliana Lima via unanimous decision
James Vick def. Glaico Franca via unanimous decision
Walt Harris def. Cody East via first-round TKO (4:18)
Marcos Rogerio de Lima def. Clint Hester via sub (arm triangle) (R1, 4:35)
Kevin Lee def. Efrain Escudero via unanimous decision

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