So I'm curious, was years later Rua coming off multiple knee surgeries better than the Rua who made a name for himself in pro fighting? Was Rampage at the age he fought Jones better than the Rampage of Pride fame? Was Vitor better off not being the young phenom and fighting Jones in his 30's?
If these names are going to be used to bolster Jones' cred, let's at least look at the reality of where they were at the time. Who did more than Cormier before being handed a title bout? Anyone caring enough to look, will see that for the most part, getting a title bout with Jones at 205 means having at least one win (unless you're Sonnen who came off a loss) in a row. That's some high ass bar to surpass eh?
Evans, Machida and Gus were legit tough fights. The others were much less so. Hendo beating Fedor when he did means much less than if he'd beaten Fedor ten years prior when the Russian was slaying fools and in his prime. Someone beating Big Nog or Cro cop now isn't on the same order of difficulty as in their prime. Looking at Jones list in context is less magnificent than at a casual glance.
Whether or not Jones could beat a prime Rua, prime Rampage or prime Vitor is up in the air, as far as I'm concerned. One thing's for sure, he's not getting full credit from me for beating shadows of the men that built those names.
Pride Rampage, Pride Rua and phenom Vitor would crush their present selves into dust.