Two of the top exponents of mixed martial arts will head into UFC 247 with a point to prove despite their current status as champions.
Jon Jones and Valentina Shevchenko are strongly fancied to retain their respective titles on February 8, although both fighters will also be keen to make a statement.
The pair are odds-on favorites in the 888 UFC betting to record victories in Houston and continue their excellent run of results.
However, it is their status as the current ‘best in the business’ which remains a hot topic, with each fighter having questions to answer in this regard.
Read on as we look at whether Jones is the top male fighter in the world right now and assess whether the same can be said for Shevchenko in the women’s division.
Controversies cloud Jones’ achievements in the Octagon.
It would be fair to say that a fair proportion of Jones’ professional fighting career has been dogged by controversy.
Failed drug tests, suspensions, a hit-and-run incident and a battery charge are amongst the issues that have overshadowed Jones’ achievements.
However, his record of just one defeat due to a disqualification because of illegal elbows is hugely impressive in a sport where staying unbeaten isn’t easy.
The 32-year-old has racked up 16 straight wins since then, with many of those successes coming against truly top-class opponents.
Recent victories over Thiago Santos and Anthony Smith showed that Jones remains tough to beat and should still be classed as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC.
Many pundits, and the man himself, believe that particular title should go to Khabib Nurmagomedov, but his one-dimensional style doesn’t propel him to those heights just yet.
Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier aside, the Nurmagomedov’s list of opponents are not on a par with the men Jones has faced and that gives the American the edge.
A victory over Dominick Reyes on Saturday would further cement Jones’ status as the current cream of the crop and perhaps go some way to silencing his doubters.
Defeats by Nunes still haunting Shevchenko
Valentina Shevchenko has steamrollered her opponents since dropping down to flyweight and should continue her winning ways against Katlyn Chookagian this weekend.
Despite reeling off four successive victories in the UFC, two defeats against Amanda Nunes in bantamweight bouts are a black mark on her record.
She was first beaten by Nunes back in March 2016, with the Brazilian securing a unanimous decision at UFC 196.
Shevchenko had a second opportunity to topple Nunes in a title match during 2017, but her rival retained the strap courtesy of a split decision.
Shevchenko has made it clear that she wants a third fight with Nunes and a win against Chookagian would be another step towards that.
The Kyrgyzstani star would certainly fancy her chances of breaking her duck against Nunes, although a win would probably only serve to cloud the ‘best pound-for-pound’ argument in the female division rather than resolve it.