The UFC Heavyweight Title: A Visual History

By Ben Duffy Oct 31, 2018
UFC 230 is now available on Amazon Prime.

At UFC 230 this Saturday, Derrick Lewis will attempt to become the 17th man to bear the title of undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight king. Opposing him in that attempt will be two-division champ Daniel Cormier, who will be on a quest of his own -- to become only the 10th heavyweight champ to successfully defend his belt. While many have noted the hastily-thrown together nature of this main event title fight, it’s worth noting that such strangeness is par for the course when talking about the UFC heavyweight title.

From its inception in 1997, the UFC’s heavyweight division was marked in its early years by a dizzying series of twists and turns, including three different champions in its first year, multiple champs abandoning the title to fight elsewhere and two men losing 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 6’10” giants to 5’9” 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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UFC 12 UFC 14 UFC 15 UFC 15.5 UFC 20 UFC 23 UFC 26 UFC 28 UFC 31 UFC 34 UFC 36 UFC 39 UFC 41 UFC 44 UFC 48 UFC 51 UFC 59 UFC 61 UFC 55 UFC 59 UFC 61 UFC 65 UFC 68 UFC 74 UFC 91 UFC 100 UFC 116 UFC 121 UFC on Fox 1 UFC 146 UFC 155 UFC 160 UFC 166 UFC 188 UFC 198 UFC 203 UFC 211 UFC 220 UFC 226 Daniel Cormier Stipe Miocic Fabricio Werdum Cain Velasquez Cain Velasquez Junior dos Santos Brock Lesnar Randy Couture Randy Couture Randy Couture Tim Sylvia Tim Sylvia Andrei Arlovski Frank Mir Ricco Rodriguez Josh Barnett Kevin Randleman Bas Rutten Maurice Smith Mark Coleman Sherdog Sherdog

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