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5 Greatest UFC Heavyweight Champions in History

  • Counting down the very best UFC Heavyweight Champions in Octagon history.
Paul Benson
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 19 Oct 2018, 23:03 IST

Former Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar confronts reigning Champion, Daniel Cormier
Former Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar confronts reigning Champion, Daniel Cormier

At UFC 230, UFC Heavyweight Champion, Daniel Cormier will defend his crown for the first time against number one contender, Derrick Lewis.

Veteran Cormier is new to Heavyweight and will be towered over and outweighed by Lewis in a very intriguing encounter.

Cormier had long been rumored to defend the strap versus former Champion, Brock Lesnar following their unforgettable post-match encounter at UFC 226 following Cormier's win over Stipe Miocic ending Miocic's reign (the most successful Heavyweight Championship reign in history) as Champion.

Should Cormier be victorious in both those fights then he would be listed on this slideshow near the top of the list as one of the greatest Heavyweight Champions of all time as well as one of the best ever Light-Heavyweights in UFC history.

The UFC Heavyweight Championship dates back to February 7, 1997 when Mark Coleman became the first ever UFC Champion at UFC 12 when as the reigning UFC Tournament Champion, having been victorious at UFC 10 and UFC 11, he defeated Superfight Champion, Dan Severn to unify the belts.

Coleman who at that point in his career was undefeated was expected to enjoy a long reign but was shockingly defeated by former Kickboxer, Maurice Smith.

The first ever UFC Heavyweight Champion - Mark
The first ever UFC Heavyweight Champion - Mark "The Hammer" Coleman

From there the title quickly bounced around different fighters Randy Couture to Bas Rutten to Kevin Randleman, only being defended once successfully in that run, before finding more stability when Couture regained the title and twice successfully defended the belt.

The title has been held by 16 different men in total during it's 21 year existence each to varying degrees of success.


In this slideshow SK reviews the five best UFC Heavyweight Champions in the history of their promotion, looking at their levels of success as Champion.

#5 Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar as UFC Heavyweight Champion
Brock Lesnar as UFC Heavyweight Champion

One Reigns

Two Defences

UFC fans were dismayed when former WWE and New Japan Wrestling World Champion, Brock Lesnar stepped foot inside the Octagon for the first time at UFC 81 on February 2, 2008.

Lesnar was perceived as a "fake fighting" Champion and not worth a spot in the MMA powerhouse among athletes who had been competing legitimately for their entire lives.

That was an oversimplification of a viewpoint with Lesnar having a long background in amateur wrestling as a former NCAA Division 1 Champion (a very prestigious honour in amateur wrestling circles) which spoke volumes about his fighting capabilities.

Another knock against Lesnar was that he had only had one MMA fight upon his signing with UFC and was vastly more inexperienced then the rest of the roster. That was a legitimate complaint, however MMA like any sport is a business first and foremost and like it or not, Lesnar brought many more eyes to the product that many of it's more established stars.

Lesnar's UFC debut did not go to plan. Pitted against former Champion, Frank Mir, Lesnar was thrown in at the deep end. Despite that, the larger Lesnar manhandled his foe but his inexperience told as he carelessly allowed himself to be caught by a heel hook and had no choice but to tap out.

Lesnar made no such mistakes in his second UFC bout, dominating veteran, Heath Herring from start to finish as he earned a title shot against Heavyweight Champion, Randy Couture at UFC 91.

Couture matched Lesnar for the first round before the younger fighter's superior strength told and he brutally Knocked the legend out to win the title in just his fourth professional bout.

Lesnar's reign was marred by illness and injury as his three title defences spanned two years. He impressively outgunned Mir in a re-match at UFC 100 and the previously undefeated Shane Carwin at UFC 116 before he lost to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121.

Had Lesnar remained free from illness, he likely could have become the finest Heavyweight Champion in history given his size, strength and mix of striking and wrestling skills.

Should Lesnar's impending UFC return in 2019 go well, he may well become Heavyweight Champion again and stake a claim as one of the very best Champions in the history of the company, more so than he is already.

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Published 16 Oct 2018, 13:14 IST
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