The 5 best title reigns in UFC history
While the past couple of years have seen the UFC’s world titles devalue somewhat thanks to the introduction of so many ‘interim’ championships, only a fool would try to claim that they’re not the most valuable and prized titles in the sport of MMA right now.
Recently we’ve seen controversy over a handful of title reigns – Nicco Montano’s reign as Women’s Flyweight champion, for instance – that hasn’t always been the case and over the years the UFC has seen some truly legendary title reigns from dominant champions.
Here are the 5 best title reigns in UFC history – with a couple of honorable mentions for good measure.
Jose Aldo – UFC Featherweight title – 04/30/2011 to 12/12/2015
Technically speaking, Jose Aldo was actually awarded the inaugural UFC Featherweight title at the end of 2010 when it was announced that the UFC was absorbing the WEC promotion – where Aldo had held the Featherweight crown since late 2009. But for this article I’ve dated the beginning of his UFC reign as being the date of his first title defense, against Mark Hominick at UFC 129.
Aldo held the Featherweight title for the best part of 5 years and made 7 successful defences during that time, largely against the best 145lbers the world had to offer. So why doesn’t he make the top 5? For me there’s a simple reason.
Essentially, it’s down to the fact that Aldo had long periods on the shelf and missed out on making more defences – he fought just once in 2012, for instance, and was also out of action between October 2014 and December 2015. In the same breath, he also had to withdraw from a total of 5 title defences with various injuries.
This lack of activity considering the length of his title reign just about rules him out – but I’d consider him a strong 6th place.
Tito Ortiz – UFC Light-Heavyweight title – 04/14/2000 to 09/26/2003
At one point Ortiz’s title reign – which encompassed the best part of 4 years and saw him make 5 successful title defences – was seen as the gold standard for UFC champions to aim at. At 205lbs for instance it took until Jon Jones’s title reign – over a decade later – for a fighter to break his number of successful defences.
Time hasn’t exactly been kind to Tito’s run, though, largely in how his opposition is now viewed. With the power of hindsight, Yuki Kondo and Evan Tanner were natural 185lbers; Elvis Sinosic should never have gained a title shot, and Ken Shamrock was miles past his prime when he challenged Ortiz. That means the lone impressive defence Tito made was against Vladimir Matyushenko.
Ortiz’s accomplishment still remains impressive, but in 2018 it just isn’t as great as some of the reigns that have come since.
Tyron Woodley – UFC Welterweight title – 07/30/2016 to present
The current UFC Welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley’s title reign has been eventful but has largely split the opinions of fans and analysts alike. Thus far he’s made 4 successful title defences, all against the top contender in the division or thereabouts, and that’s impressive for modern-day UFC.
Unfortunately, 2 of those defences weren’t exactly thrilling viewing, with his second fight against Stephen Thompson in particular being up there with the worst title fights in UFC history. If Woodley can make more defences like his recent one against Darren Till then he could definitely climb the list, but for now he’s an honourable mention.
Stipe Miocic – UFC Heavyweight title – 05/14/2016 to 07/07/2018
Stipe Miocic is generally considered the greatest UFC Heavyweight champion of all time – not so much because of his dominance or his fighting style, but more because with 3 successful title defences, he actually holds the division’s record. Basically, the Heavyweight crown is usually somewhat of a hot potato and yet Miocic changed that briefly.
But despite this, he still never felt as invulnerable as the 5 champions on the list – he was in trouble during his title defences against both Alistair Overeem and Francis Ngannou, for instance – and the fact that he lost his title to a man moving up from 205lbs – no matter how great Daniel Cormier is – keeps him on the honourable mentions list.