The UFC Heavyweight Title: A Visual History

By Ben Duffy Nov 7, 2018
Daniel Cormier remains king of the heavyweight hill, and emphatically so.

At UFC 230 last weekend, "DC" completely dominated Derrick Lewis for a little over seven minutes, taking the massive Texan down repeatedly and offering him no opportunities to bring his fearsome knockout power into play, before throttling Lewis with a rear-naked choke. With his stated plan to retire by his 40th birthday next March, Cormier is likely to face only one more challenger before calling it a career. The front-runner for that honor is former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champ and longtime World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Brock Lesnar, in a blockbuster matchup that appears to be more of a severance package for Cormier than a legitimate challenge to his title reign.

Whatever the outcome of that fight, it is extremely likely that the UFC will have to hold a championship fight to fill a vacant throne sometime next year. Of course, that's hardly a new thing for the UFC heavyweight title -- in fact, it's already happened five times.

Founded in 1997, the UFC’s heavyweight division spent a solid decade in a state of near-constant turmoil. There were three different champions in the first year. Multiple champs abandoning the title to fight elsewhere. Two champions -- Josh Barnett and Tim Sylvia -- lost their belts in the lab rather than the Octagon. The UFC’s heavyweight title was also a clear second fiddle to its Pride Fighting Championships counterpart for most of that first decade. With the 2007 absorption of Pride and, a few years later, the acquisition of Strikeforce -- including Cormier, incidentally, fresh from winning the heavyweight grand prix -- the UFC’s heavyweight division eventually gained the preeminent status it still enjoys. Today, the fighter wearing UFC heavyweight gold can lay a claim to “baddest man on the planet” status that is hard to dispute.

Here is a graphic representation of the 21-year history of the UFC undisputed heavyweight title and the times it was won, lost or defended. Interim title fights are omitted with the exception of Andrei Arlovski-Tim Sylvia 1, since the winner of that fight ended up inheriting the undisputed title without a unification bout. From 6-foot-10 giants to 5-foot-9 monsters, from larger-than-life pro wrestlers to humble firefighters, from drug scandals to grisly injuries in and out of the cage, the picture tells a story as strange and amazing as the sport itself.

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Sherdog.com Daniel Cormier Stipe Miocic Fabricio Werdum Cain Velasquez Junior dos Santos Cain Velasquez Brock Lesnar Randy Couture Tim Sylvia Andrei Arlovski Frank Mir Tim Sylvia Ricco Rodriguez Josh Barnett Randy Couture Kevin Randleman Bas Rutten Randy Couture Maurice Smith Mark Coleman Sherdog.com UFC 230 UFC 226 UFC 220 UFC 211 UFC 203 UFC 198 UFC 188 UFC 166 UFC 160 UFC 155 UFC 146 UFC on Fox 1 UFC 121 UFC 116 UFC 100 UFC 91 UFC 74 UFC 68 UFC 65 UFC 61 UFC 59 UFC 55 UFC 51 UFC 48 UFC 44 UFC 41 UFC 39 UFC 36 UFC 34 UFC 31 UFC 28 UFC 26 UFC 23 UFC 20 UFC 15.5 UFC 15 UFC 14 UFC 12

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