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5 times legendary UFC champions lost badly

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
1.98K   //    Timeless

Ronda Rousey was defeated badly by Holly Holm in 2015
Ronda Rousey was defeated badly by Holly Holm in 2015

In the world of the UFC, like in any sport, it’s largely impossible for even the greatest champion to stay at the top forever. In the 20-year history of the promotion, just two champions – Frank Shamrock and Georges St-Pierre – have managed to vacate their titles rather than losing them or being stripped by the company.

On a lot of occasions, it’s a close-fought battle that sees the champion finally lose their title – think Rampage Jackson’s Light-Heavyweight title loss to Forrest Griffin, or more recently, Demetrious Johnson’s Flyweight title loss to Henry Cejudo.

Other times though, the defending champion takes such a bad beating that it’s almost enough to question whether they were actually any good in the first place. Here are 5 examples of times that great UFC champions lost badly.

#1 Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez – UFC 121

Cain Velasquez mercilessly beat down Brock Lesnar at UFC 121
Cain Velasquez mercilessly beat down Brock Lesnar at UFC 121

Some analysts would argue with the idea of calling Brock Lesnar a “great UFC champion”, as there’s a fair argument to suggest he never truly earned a title shot in the first place due to fighting Randy Couture with just a 1-1 Octagon record.

Lesnar knocked Couture out to win the title, though, and the statistics definitely suggest he could be considered a great champion. Until the reign of Stipe Miocic from 2016 to 2018, Lesnar jointly held the record for most successful Heavyweight title defences with 2, defeating formidable opponents in Frank Mir and Shane Carwin.

Regardless of what you feel about ‘The Beast Incarnate’ though, one thing is undeniable – that the beating Cain Velasquez put on him to take his title away was one of the nastiest in the history of the Heavyweight division.

Coming into the fight, the fanbase appeared to be split as to who would win – some siding with the challenger’s superior striking and cardio, others favouring Lesnar’s size, power and supposedly better wrestling game. 

Lesnar did indeed take Velasquez down early, but it was the only success he saw in the fight. The challenger quickly made it back to his feet, and from there he hit his own takedown on Lesnar and began to unleash some huge punches that had the champion literally stumbling and spinning around the cage.

Lesnar eventually crumbled under Velasquez’s punching power, and was TKO’d towards the end of the first round – being left with a gash under his left eye that looked like it’d been made with a machete. For the fans who disliked Brock, this was instant karma – a devastating beatdown to knock him off his perch at the top of the Heavyweight mountain.

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Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
UK based, big follower of football and MMA. Tottenham and England fan for life!
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