4 times a former UFC champion regained their title in a rematch
After months of speculation, the UFC has now seemingly made a bantamweight title rematch between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan. Their second clash is expected to take place at October’s UFC 267 pay-per-view in Abu Dhabi.
The UFC has always loved to book rematches for its titles, particularly when a dominant champion has been dethroned, and often, that fallen champion regains their title instantly.
We will find out at UFC 267 whether Petr Yan can regain his title, but if he manages to do so, he’ll be following in some illustrious footsteps.
So with that in mind, here are four times a former UFC champion regained their title in a rematch.
#4. Randy Couture vs. Vitor Belfort – UFC 49
When Randy Couture defeated Tito Ortiz for the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 44, it looked like he’d go onto have a dominant title reign. Few UFC fans thought his first challenger Vitor Belfort , who Couture had beaten back at UFC 15, would be the man to stop him.
Incredibly, though, at UFC 46, ‘The Natural’ ended up losing his title to Belfort under hugely controversial circumstances.
An errant punch from ‘The Phenom’ missed its target, but the stitching in his glove somehow caught Couture in the eye, and essentially detached his eyelid. There was no choice but to stop the fight, and so Belfort won the title on what was basically a technicality.
The UFC naturally booked an immediate rematch at UFC 49 just seven months later, and this time, for Couture at least, things went to plan.
As he’d done some seven years prior, he used his wrestling skills to abuse Belfort in the clinch and on the ground, and ended up finishing the Brazilian via TKO at the culmination of the third round.
Essentially, Belfort’s title reign had been short and largely undeserved, but the fact that Couture was able to take back the title, making him a four-time UFC champion, only added to his ever-growing legend.
#3. Georges St-Pierre vs. Matt Serra – UFC 83
When Georges St-Pierre knocked out longtime UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes at UFC 65, it felt like the beginning of a new era. St-Pierre had been destroying any opponent put in front of him prior to that, and it looked like he’d be equally as dominant over the division as Hughes had been.
But that idea went out of the window when GSP was knocked out by huge underdog Matt Serra, who had claimed his title shot by winning the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter, at UFC 69. It was arguably the biggest upset in UFC history, period.
Initially, the UFC weren’t set on a rematch, instead booking Serra to defend against Hughes to settle their brewing rivalry. But Serra ended up injuring his back and was unable to compete for a year.
In that time, St-Pierre regained his mojo, and after thrashing Josh Koscheck and Hughes for a second time, the UFC had no choice but to give him a second shot at ‘The Terror’.
And at UFC 83, which took place in St-Pierre’s hometown of Montreal, Quebec, the Canadian gave Serra absolutely no chance of repeating his upset win. He hammered him over the course of two rounds en route to a TKO victory, reclaiming his title and ending Serra’s reign abruptly.
Not only had GSP avenged the biggest loss of his career, but he would never again lose another fight in his UFC career.
#2. Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos – UFC 155
Heavyweights Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos always seemed to be set on a collision course from the moment they debuted in the UFC in 2008.
Both men cut a swath through the heavyweight division, beating everyone in front of them, and it only seemed sweeter when their inevitable meeting turned out to be for the UFC heavyweight title, which had been won by Velasquez at UFC 121.
Velasquez came into his fight with JDS as a slight favourite, but just one minute in, a huge right hook knocked him unconscious, making Dos Santos the new champion.
Surprisingly, the UFC didn’t book an immediate rematch – but when JDS defended his title against Frank Mir on the same show that Velasquez dismantled Antonio Silva, it was clear that a second meeting was warranted.
And at UFC 155, despite JDS seemingly being in the best shape of his career, Velasquez avenged his earlier loss in cruel and devastating fashion.
He battered the Brazilian from pillar to post, never giving him any room to rest, en route to a one-sided five-round decision win. And to ensure there was no doubt, he then repeated the feat in the third bout between the two the following year.
#1. Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier – UFC 241
When UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic faced off with UFC light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier at UFC 226, history was made. Cormier knocked Miocic out in the first round to become the first man to hold both the UFC heavyweight title and light heavyweight titles at the same time.
The fight was about as decisive as it could possibly have been, but Miocic smarted from the loss, claiming that he deserved an immediate rematch due to his dominant title reign prior to the defeat.
The UFC initially seemed unwilling to acquiesce to his demands, and Cormier defended his newly won title against Derrick Lewis at UFC 230.
But with no other potential challenger on the horizon, the UFC were forced back to the former champion, and so a rematch was booked for UFC 241, just over a year after the initial meeting.
Despite Cormier being heavily favored, it looked like the year away from the octagon had done Miocic some good, as he seemed more durable and was able to absorb the kind of shots that’d knocked him out in the first fight.
As the fight ticked into the later rounds, Miocic’s work to the body began to shine through, and he eventually broke Cormier down with enough strikes to stop him late in the fourth round.
The fight was one of the greatest heavyweight fights in UFC history – completely justifying the rematch and, as if to prove his point further, Miocic then defeated Cormier for a second time in their third bout, leaving no doubts as to who was the better man.