In MMA, the heavyweight division seems to be the most difficult to cleanout. Few champions in the sport’s history have ever truly dominated the weight class. UFC 252 will see the trilogy bout between arguably two of the greatest heavyweight champions in the company’s history. After Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier III, the winner will have a claim as to being the greatest UFC Heavyweight Champion of all time.
With such a big title fight upcoming, it’s a good time to assess where the division has been over its 23-year-history.
Naturally, when MMA heavyweights are discussed, Fedor Emelianenko’s name is often brought up. For the purposes of this article, we are going to just compare former UFC heavyweight champions, however. This shouldn’t be seen as a devaluing of Fedor’s unstoppable run in the 2000s. It is just to get a sense of who has been the most dominant fighters in the UFC heavyweight division through the years.
These are the fighters who have won the most UFC Heavyweight title fights in history:
Randy Couture (6 Wins in UFC Heavyweight Championship Fights)
Randy Couture was the first man to really have a sustained run with the UFC Heavyweight Championship. He won the title at UFC Japan in late 1997 by defeating Maurice Smith via unanimous decision. Couture would then be stripped of the belt in 1998 after a contract dispute with the company.
He returned at UFC 28 and knocked out Kevin Randleman at UFC 28 to take his title back. Couture then defended the title twice successfully against Pedro Rizzo at UFC 31 and 34.
Couture came out of retirement and won the title for a 3rd time by defeating Tim Sylvia at UFC 68. He’d follow that up by defending it successfully against Gabriel Gonzaga. Brock Lesnar would take the title from Couture for the last time at UFC 91.
Couture’s 3 reigns with the belt and 3 successful title wins makes him one of the most decorated heavyweight champions in UFC history.
Stipe Miocic (5 Wins In UFC Heavyweight Championship Fights)
Stipe Miocic has a chance to tie Randy Couture for the most wins in UFC heavyweight championship history at UFC 252. He already holds the record for most successful title defenses in the division with 3. Stipe won the title from Werdum at UFC 198. He then defended the title a record 3x against Alistair Overeem, Junior Dos Santos, and Francis Ngannou.
After then losing to Cormier at UFC 226, Miocic came back to win the title 13 months later at UFC 241. He returns again for another big summer title fight against Cormier, the 3rd in a row.
Tim Sylvia (5 Wins In UFC Heavyweight Championship Fights)
Tim Sylvia won the UFC heavyweight championship by defeating Ricco Rodriguez at UFC 41. He then defended the title successfully against Gan McGee at UFC 44. Sylvia was stripped of the title due to failing a drug test but then lost a title fight to Frank Mir in his next bout anyway.
Sylvia won the title for a second time by defeating Andrei Arlovski at UFC 59. He followed that up with successful title defenses against Arlovski at UFC 61 and over Jeff Monson at UFC 65. He’d drop the belt to Couture at UFC 68.
Cain Velasquez (4 Wins In UFC Heavyweight Championship Fights)
Cain Velasquez would win the UFC Heavyweight Championship for the first time by defeating Brock Lesnar at UFC 121. He’d drop it in his first title defense to Junior Dos Santos at the first UFC on Fox event in 2011. He’d avenge the loss and win the title back from JDS at UFC 155.
Velasquez defended the title against Antonio Silva and JDS in a trilogy bout before dropping the title to Fabrico Werdum at UFC 188.
Brock Lesnar (3 Wins In UFC Heavyweight Championship Fights)
Brock Lesnar won the UFC Heavyweight Championship from Randy Couture at UFC 91. He then defeated Frank Mir at UFC 100 and followed that up by defeating Shane Carwin at UFC 116. Lesnar would drop the belt to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121.
Andrei Arlovski (3 Wins In UFC Heavyweight Championship Fights)
Arlovski first won the UFC Heavyweight Championship at UFC 51 by defeating Tim Sylvia. He then defeated Justin Eilers at UFC 53 and Paul Buentello at UFC 55. Arlovski would then drop the belt to Tim Sylvia at UFC 59.
Champions with 2 wins in UFC Heavyweight Championship Fights:
- Maurice Smith
- Kevin Randleman
- Frank Mir
- Junior Dos Santos
- Fabrício Werdum
- Daniel Cormier
Champions with 1 win in UFC Heavyweight Championship Fights:
- Mark Coleman
- Bas Rutten
- Josh Barnett
- Ricco Rodriguez
- Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
- Shane Carwin
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