Who kept Jon Jones off our MMA Mount Rushmore?

In honor of President's Day, we take a look at which iconic fighters deserve to be immortalized beyond Hall of Fame status


Mt Rushmore National Memorial


Mount Rushmore, one of America's most iconic monuments, celebrates former U.S. Presidents that had some of the biggest impacts on the country during their time as commander in chief.

The 5,725-foot mountain features the faces of George Washington, the OG president; one of the country's greatest thinkers in Thomas Jefferson; abolitionist Abe Lincoln; dedicated conservationist Theodore Roosevelt in one of the greatest honors one can receive as President.

But that got us thinking ... whose head would we carve into a ridiculously huge mountain? Which guys were so instrumental to the success of modern MMA that they need to be immortalized beyond Hall of Fame status?

It wasn't easy, but here is our MMA Mt. Rushmore.


Jiu-Jitsu black belt Royce Gracie (USA) receives a $50,000 check after winning UFC 1

Markus Boesch / Getty Images North America

Royce Gracie

Gracie is North American mixed martial art's conquering founding father, period. His bravery and application of his family's Gracie jiu-jitsu showed what is was likely, and effective in a real hand-to-hand fight.

He introduced Gracie jiu-jitsu to the world outside of Brazil and made one thing suddenly, if still mysteriously, clear -- if you wanted to win real fights, you had to train Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Despite being the smallest competitor in open-weight tournaments filled with skilled giants, Gracie made them all say "uncle" because he knew stuff they did not.

More than that, Royce fought and beat upwards of four men in a single night under rules (rather, lack of rules which allowed groin shots, head-butts, head stomps, and a lot more, along with no rounds) that most modern-day MMA fighters would hesitate to compete under.

Even as the sport evolves beyond his own abilities, he is still a gold standard for gameness and toughness.


Fedor Emelianenko celebrates after defeating Andrei Arlovski in the first round during their Heavyweight bout 

Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images North America

Fedor Emelianenko

In what was likely the greatest era of heavyweights in history during the prime years of PRIDE Fighting Championships, Emelianenko was king and there wasn't really a close second at the time.

Emelianenko certainly wasn't the biggest heavyweight, and he wasn't the best striker, best submission artist or even the best wrestler. But he was definitely the most devastating and most feared fighter during a time when he was taking on a who's who list of future and current Hall of Fame level fighters.

Emelianenko earned his reputation during an early run in PRIDE with a vicious ground attack that was unlike anything seen before in the heavyweight division as he postured up in his opponents' guards and then rained down terror with some of the hardest punches ever landed in this sport.

Over time, Emelianenko eventually developed a striking game that wasn't the most technically sound aspect of his overall arsenal, but he threw with such force that even the best fighters on the feet had to respect what he could potentially do to them.

There have been great heavyweights in the past and there will be more in the future, but when it comes to the best of all time, Fedor Emelianenko is still in a class by himself.

Georges St-Pierre punches Johny Hendricks in their UFC welterwei,Georges St-Pierre punches Johny Hendricks in their UFC welterweight championship

Georges St-Pierre punches Johny Hendricks in their UFC welterweight championship bout during the UFC 167

Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Georges St-Pierre

Several years after his retirement from competition, it still may be true that French-Canadian St-Pierre is the most well-rounded and effective fighter in history. He entered MMA as a dynamic karate-based striker capable of action-movie highlights.

He became a champion because he also became a phenomenal grappler -- with elite submission skills and perhaps the best takedowns in all of MMA.

By the time he was done, St-Pierre had faced everyone there was at welterweight, dominated for years, and showed what discipline, an open mind and ceaseless work can create -- a near-perfect fighter.


Anderson Silva reacts to his win over Nick Diaz in their middleweight bout

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Anderson Silva

It's hard to mention the greatest fighters of all time and not immediately put Silva into the debate for the top spot.

A former middleweight champion who still holds the record for the most title defenses in UFC history with 10, Silva stormed through the Octagon like a natural disaster, wiping out every contender in his wake.

He needed just two fights to eliminate Rich Franklin and claim the middleweight title. Then he went on to obliterate virtually every opponent the UFC could throw at him while creating a highlight reel for the ages.

Silva toyed with opponents on the feet, often times inviting them to stand and trade with him, before he made them feel rather foolish for even trying. Silva didn't have the kind of frame that you'd imagine would come along with the most terrifying fighter in the sport, but when he attacked, opponents would wilt and crumble from his pressure.

Silva even dabbled at light heavyweight every now and again just for fun while he sent virtually every middleweight contender packing -- some on two occasions -- while staying at the top of the sport as possibly the best champion there has ever been.

Honorable Mention

These guys might not be on the mountain now, but if some space opens up, they're next.


Randy Couture faces Tim Sylvia during UFC 68 

Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC / Zuffa LLC

Randy Couture

He brought both world-class grappling and a lifetime of motivating frustration with him to MMA after being a four-time Olympic Greco wrestling Team USA alternate. We would contend that he is the best American wrestler to ever fight.

Couture was a master of working to his advantages. He never hesitated to jump into danger, whether it was during individual fights like when he traded punches with Chuck Liddell in order to get inside to work his dominant clinch-game, or in his overall career, like when he came out of retirement in his 40s to vie for and capture the heavyweight world title against the gigantic Tim Sylvia.

Couture may very well have had the toughest schedule of any MMA fighter -- ever. From just about his debut to his final fight, he fought only the best of the best, with literally most of his career fights being for a title of some sort.

That is nothing short of amazing, and though he took his lumps and losses along the way, his multiple title reigns in multiple weight classes speak for themselves.


Jon Jones (L) kicks Daniel Cormier (R) in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout during UFC 182

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Jon Jones

Let's be clear -- the book on Jones is still being written, but even now he's earned a spot amongst the greatest of all time.

If a geneticist was trying to put together the perfect fighting machine, scientists would need to look no further than Jones. At 6-foot-4, he has the body built for battle with a long reach, incredible wrestling, devastating power and the kind of creativity that generally baffles his opponents at every turn.

Jones has torn through champions and ex-champions at will with dominant, lopsided fights throughout his career. He's dispatched Olympians and icons and seems to do so with such flawless ease, it seems almost impossible to believe what he's doing at times.

Jones is a true prodigy of mixed martial arts and at 28 years old, he's already the prototypical fighter than many of today's best and brightest are emulating in an attempt to recreate his success. Jones isn't just the best in the world right now -- he's quickly becoming the standard by which all over fighters will be judged in the future.

Jones has the potential to be Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali all rolled into one by the time he finally hangs up his gloves.

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