5 latest finishes in UFC title fights

Demetrious Johnson submitted Kyoji Horiguchi in the very last second of their flyweight title fight
Demetrious Johnson submitted Kyoji Horiguchi in the very last second of their flyweight title fight

While the majority of the UFC’s main events are now scheduled for five rounds, there’s still something special about a big-time title fight that goes into the so-called 'championship rounds', particularly if it ends there.

Over the years, we’ve seen plenty of UFC title bouts that go the distance, but we’ve also seen them finished at the last possible moment, shocking the fans in the process.

While they remain rare, there have been a number of title bouts that finished in the fifth and final round – but which finish came at the latest point?

Here are the five latest finishes in UFC title bouts.


#5. Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg – UFC flyweight title – 3:15 in Round 5

Demetrious Johnson produced a truly crazy finish to submit Ray Borg in their title bout
Demetrious Johnson produced a truly crazy finish to submit Ray Borg in their title bout

With 11 successful title defenses in a row to his name, former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson remains one of the most dominant titleholders in the history of the promotion.

Despite a curious reputation as a somewhat dull fighter at times, ‘Mighty Mouse’ was not just a dominant champion – he was a finisher too, with seven of his 11 defenses ending before the final buzzer. However, he was no stranger to leaving things late, as Ray Borg found out in their 2017 title bout.

Johnson largely dominated the fight from the off, never letting ‘The Tazmexican Devil’ get comfortable. Despite Borg landing a couple of takedowns, for the most part he was forced firmly onto the defensive.

Despite this, as the rounds ticked away, it looked more and more likely that Borg would probably survive to the final buzzer, even after Johnson completely controlled him on the ground throughout the fourth round.

With just under two minutes remaining in the fifth, though, ‘Mighty Mouse’ had other ideas. After taking Borg’s back from a standing position, he was somehow able to elevate the challenger into the air for a suplex, before releasing the hold in mid-air and transitioning directly into an armbar.

Borg was forced to tap out after a moment or two, and Johnson had not only secured one of the most unique submissions in octagon history, he’d also scored one of the latest finishes in any title bout, too.

#4. Miesha Tate vs. Holly Holm – UFC women's bantamweight title – 3:30 in Round 5

Just moments remained when Miesha Tate choked out Holly Holm in their bantamweight title bout
Just moments remained when Miesha Tate choked out Holly Holm in their bantamweight title bout

When Holly Holm dethroned Ronda Rousey to claim the UFC bantamweight title in late 2015, most fans expected her to go on to have a dominant reign as champion. After all, Rousey had looked unbeatable, so how could anyone be expected to beat Holm in turn?

However, ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ did not have a long reign as champion, and lost her title in her first defense against Miesha Tate just four months after her big victory. The fight wasn’t the most exciting, but it had a number of momentum swings – and featured a remarkably late finish, too.

Of the first four rounds of the bout, three clearly belonged to Holm, who used her striking skills to largely pick ‘Cupcake’ apart. The second round, however, saw Tate land a takedown and dominate the champion, coming close to a finish with a rear-naked choke attempt.

The stanza probably should’ve been a red flag to Holm, but in the fifth round, she made the error of backing up too close to the fence, allowing Tate to duck under a punch and take her down.

With less than two minutes remaining, ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ probably thought she could survive. However, Tate had other ideas. After securing back control, she slapped on a rear-naked choke, and this time strangled Holm into unconsciousness.

The title win represented the pinnacle of Tate’s MMA career, and the fact that the finish came so late seemed somewhat poetic, too, given her rivalry with Rousey, who built her reputation on finishing her foes quickly.


#3. Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington – UFC welterweight title – 4:10 in Round 5

Less than a minute remained when Kamaru Usman knocked out Colby Covington in their title fight
Less than a minute remained when Kamaru Usman knocked out Colby Covington in their title fight

Kamaru Usman’s 2019 welterweight title clash with Colby Covington was probably one of the biggest grudge matches in UFC history, built around a genuine dislike that was fueled by some controversial – some would say quasi-racist – insults from ‘Chaos’.

With that considered, for their bout to go the distance probably would’ve been somewhat of an anticlimax. So, the fact that ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ was able to put his bitter rival away late in the fifth round definitely capped off the story perfectly.

The fight itself was a truly excellent one that saw both men exchange heavy punches from the off, with neither man really looking to use their famed wrestling games.

With Covington looking to pressure Usman with his volume striking and the champion using his stiff jab to keep ‘Chaos’ at bay, it was also a very difficult fight to call. In fact, by the fifth round, it was hard to say which man was ahead on the scorecards.

However, Usman was in no mood to let the judges decide the winner. With around a minute to go, ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ cracked his rival with a right hand, and suddenly, Covington was forced on the retreat.

From there, the champion dropped him with another right hand, and when ‘Chaos’ got to his feet, he was sent crashing down with another. From there, the end was nigh as referee Marc Goddard stepped in.

The finish remains the latest in any UFC welterweight title fight, and while Usman had to go the distance to edge out Covington in their 2021 rematch, this performance probably still stands as his greatest.

#2. Jiri Prochazka vs. Glover Teixeira – UFC light heavyweight title – 4:32 in Round 5

Jiri Prochazka defeated Glover Teixeira for the light heavyweight title with less than 30 seconds remaining
Jiri Prochazka defeated Glover Teixeira for the light heavyweight title with less than 30 seconds remaining

The most recent entry on this list took place at UFC 275 just this past weekend. The fight in question saw a truly titanic battle between champion Glover Teixeira and challenger Jiri Prochazka for the UFC light heavyweight title, and in the end, it was ‘Denisa’ who came out on top.

However, unlike his earlier octagon victories over Volkan Oezdemir and Dominick Reyes, the win did not come easily for him at all. In fact, had the bout lasted another 30 seconds, Teixeira would actually have retained his title via decision.

The fight was essentially an instant classic, as we were treated to the very best of both fighters. Prochazka landed some huge shots on Teixeira, who simply wouldn’t go down, and the Brazilian took the fight to the ground to punish and bust open his Czech opponent.

By the time the bout made it into the fifth round, though, it seemed likely that Teixeira was ahead on the scorecards. That meant that Prochazka needed a finish, but early in the stanza, it didn’t look like he’d get it.

In fact, it was Teixeira who landed the heaviest blows of the round, hurting Prochazka with a nasty right hand. ‘Denisa’ survived, though, and with the clock ticking away, he managed to force the Brazilian to the ground and hurt him with strikes.

From there, he stunned everyone by sinking in a no-hooks rear-naked choke. With less than 30 seconds to go in the fight, Teixeira was forced to tap out, making Prochazka the new champion.

Quite how long he’ll be able to hold on to the gold remains to be seen, but even if his reign is a short one, this fight will always be remembered as one of the greatest in the division’s history – as well as one of the latest finishes, too.


#1. Demetrious Johnson vs. Kyoji Horiguchi – UFC flyweight title – 4:59 in Round 5

Just one second remained when Demetrious Johnson managed to submit Kyoji Horiguchi in their flyweight title clash
Just one second remained when Demetrious Johnson managed to submit Kyoji Horiguchi in their flyweight title clash

The latest finish in any UFC title fight came back in 2016 at UFC 186, as Demetrious Johnson defended his flyweight title against Kyoji Horiguchi. Remarkably, just one second remained in the fight when it was stopped due to submission.

Like Johnson’s earlier entry on this list – his 2017 clash with Ray Borg – this was a fight that he largely dominated from the off. At the time, Horiguchi was seen more as a prospect than a genuine contender, and was essentially given the title shot as a 'challenger of the month' type.

It showed in the fight, as ‘Mighty Mouse’ comfortably dealt with the Japanese fighter in all areas, taking him down with ease, controlling him on the ground and avoiding his power strikes to land the better shots on the feet.

As the fight ticked into the fifth round, though, it appeared to be destined to go to the judges’ scorecards. Johnson was winning easily, but simply wasn’t doing quite enough to secure a finish, despite Horiguchi clearly tiring.

However, with seconds remaining, ‘Mighty Mouse’ kicked into overdrive. He took Horiguchi down one last time, secured a mounted crucifix to soften him up with punches, and then slapped an armbar on to force a tap at the 4:59 mark.

Had Horiguchi not tapped, he would’ve survived the distance, but probably would’ve ended up with a broken arm, too. Given the nature of this victory – with just one second remaining in the fight – it’s unlikely it’ll ever be beaten as the latest finish in a UFC title fight.

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