A Lineal History: UFC Lightweight Championship

By Mike Fridley and Brian Knapp Aug 7, 2012
On Feb. 23, 2001 at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, N.J., Jens Pulver defeated Caol Uno by unanimous decision at UFC 30 to become the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first lightweight titleholder. Then 26, Pulver defended the crown twice, capturing a unanimous verdict from Dennis Hallman at UFC 33 and a majority nod over B.J. Penn at UFC 35.

It was the beginning of a strange journey for one of the sport’s most coveted belts.

A little less than a year after Pulver was stripped of the title in March 2002 over a contract dispute, Penn and Uno fought for the vacant championship. Their meeting resulted in a draw that left the 155-pound crown in limbo for more than three years. Not until Sean Sherk defeated Kenny Florian by unanimous decision at UFC 64 on Oct. 14, 2006 was new life breathed into division.

Three other men -- Penn, Frankie Edgar and current champion Benson Henderson -- have held the lightweight belt since, none of them defending it successfully on more than three occasions. Henderson will put it on the line for the first time when he squares off with Edgar in an anticipated rematch at UFC 150 on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Click on the champions or challengers below to learn more about each fighter's history.

Benson Henderson Benson Henderson Frankie Edgar Frankie Edgar Frankie Edgar Gray Maynard B.J. Penn B.J. Penn B.J. Penn B.J. Penn Sean Sherk Sean Sherk Sean Sherk Kenny Florian Kenny Florian Diego Sanchez Joe Stevenson B.J. Penn Jens Pulver Jens Pulver Dennis Hallman Caol Uno Sherdog.com

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