The UFC Light Heavyweight Title: A Visual History

By Ben Duffy Dec 22, 2018
UFC 232 is now available on Amazon Prime.

Looking at the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight title, there are two thoughts that immediately jump out: One, Jon Jones might be the greatest fighter we’ve ever seen; and two, Jon Jones is the reason we can’t have nice things. On Dec. 29, he will have the chance to further one of those two narratives.

On the one hand, Jones’ capture of the 205-pound belt from Mauricio Rua in 2011, and subsequent run of eight straight title defenses, represents unparalleled dominance. Not only were virtually all of his foes in that stretch highly deserving challengers, several of them were among the greatest fighters of all-time in their own right. On the other hand, it is largely due to Jones’ mind-boggling litany of personal and professional missteps that this timeline needs so many notes to explain how the belt got where it did and why.

At UFC 232, Jones will have the chance to put all that behind him. Still only 31, he will fight for the belt vacated by his two-time foil, Daniel Cormier. Across the Octagon from him will be Alexander Gustafsson, the man who gave Jones the greatest test of his career five years ago. The stakes are equally high for “The Mauler,” who has come up short in two title challenges and surely wishes to get himself out of the discussion of “greatest fighters never to win a UFC title.”

Of course, the UFC light heavyweight belt has gone back and forth between being an anchor and a hot potato since the beginning. While dominant champions including Frank Shamrock, Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell and Jones have held onto the title for lengthy reigns, the fact remains that of the 13 UFC light heavyweight champs (counting Randy Couture’s two stints separately), six of them failed to defend the title even a single time, and two more were able to defend it only once. It speaks to the traditionally top-heavy nature of the division that some of the best fighters in history, in their primes, were unable to fend off the onslaught of high-level challengers.

Here, then, is the 21-year history of the undisputed UFC light heavyweight title. It tells a story of a division loaded with star power from the very beginning, a division where to capture the title was the mark of greatness, but to hold onto it was the makings of legend.

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Sherdog.com Daniel Cormier Jon Jones Mauricio Rua Lyoto Machida Rashad Evans Forrest Griffin Quinton Jackson Chuck Liddell Randy Couture Vitor Belfort Randy Couture Tito Ortiz UFC 15.5 UFC 16 UFC 17 UFC 17.5 UFC 22 UFC 25 UFC 29 UFC 30 UFC 32 UFC 33 UFC 40 UFC 44 UFC 46 UFC 49 UFC 52 UFC 54 UFC 57 UFC 62 UFC 66 UFC 71 UFC 75 UFC 86 UFC 92 UFC 98 UFC 104 UFC 113 UFC 128 UFC 135 UFC 140 UFC 145 UFC 152 UFC 159 UFC 165 UFC 172 UFC 182 UFC 187 UFC 192 UFC 210 UFC 220 UFC 232 Sherdog.com

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