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The UFC Lightweight Title: A Visual History

This weekend at UFC 269, a man who once seemed like the longest of long shots to capture UFC gold will look to defend his title for the first time.

Charles Oliveira, who won the belt with a second-round knockout of former Bellator MMA champ Michael Chandler at UFC 262 in May, spent the first seven years of his UFC career as a dangerous but flawed fighter who bounced back and forth between lightweight and featherweight, but seemed like a long shot to contend for a title in either. That all changed in mid-2016, and Oliveira’s title win over Chandler in Houston was a perfect summation of the ways in which “do Bronx” had grown as a fighter: The man once seen as an inconsistent, mentally fragile one-dimensional grappler, had just won his ninth straight fight in MMA’s toughest division by weathering serious adversity before going on to knock his opponent out with a savage volley of punches.

In this Saturday’s main event, Oliveira faces former interim champ Dustin Poirier, who will look to build on his own “Fighter of the Year” résumé by adding an undisputed belt to his two dominant and lucrative wins over Conor McGregor. Whoever wins will be the new top man in the post-Khabib Nurmagomedov lightweight division.

Here is the two-decade history of the UFC light heavyweight title and the times it was won, lost or defended. It tells the story of a division once unloved and on the verge of extinction, growing into the best collection of talent in the entire sport, and now writing a new chapter in the wake of one of the most dominant fighters of all time.

Ben Duffy/Sherdog.com illustration


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