The UFC Welterweight Title: A Visual History

By Ben Duffy Feb 9, 2021
This weekend at UFC 258, Kamaru Usman will attempt to join some very exclusive company.

The 33-year-old Nigerian-American, who is set to face off with Gilbert Burns as he defends his Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight belt for the third time, will pass future Hall-of-Famer Robbie Lawler and his two defenses if he succeeds. That will leave him trailing only Tyron Woodley and Pat Miletich (four), Matt Hughes (seven) and Georges St. Pierre (nine) on the all-time list for title defenses in perhaps MMA’s most historically competitive division.
Jon Fitch, Jake Shields, Carlos Condit and Demian Maia.

Of course, that’s owing to welterweight’s primary charm: It is a division historically ruled by dominant champions. Compared to the sad-sack early years of the UFC’s lightweight and heavyweight divisions, where nobody even seemed to want the belts, and in fact multiple sitting champions bailed for greener pastures, 170 was put in an immediate stranglehold by Miletich, who held the newly-minted strap for almost three years. Ever since, it’s been more of the same. While welterweight has its share of parity and weirdness, and boasts two of the greatest championship upsets ever, it’s a division where a man often gets the belt and spends a couple of years turning away all comers.

Here is the 22-year history of the UFC welterweight title and the times it was won, lost or defended. It tells the story of a hyper-competitive, cutthroat division, one where to strap the belt on your waist was to attach one of the sport’s largest bull’s eyes to your back.

Ben Duffy/Sherdog.com illustration


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