The UFC Light Heavyweight Title: A Visual History

By Ben Duffy Jan 17, 2019
At UFC 232, Jon Jones announced to the world that he was back, and put the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight division on notice, with a third-round rout of Alexander Gustafsson, reclaiming the title that he relinquished 15 months prior.

Contenders are queuing up now that the belt is cinched back around the waist of “Bones.” First will be the surging Anthony Smith, who is slated to get his shot in March. However, most observers agree that the most dangerous challenger standing between Jones and another dynasty is in fact himself. He’s the gift and the curse of the division.

On the one hand, Jones’ capture of the 205-pound belt from Mauricio Rua in 2011, and subsequent run of eight straight title defenses, represents unparalleled dominance. Not only were virtually all of his foes in that stretch highly deserving challengers, several of them were among the greatest fighters of all-time in their own right. On the other hand, it’s largely due to Jones’ mind-boggling litany of personal and professional missteps that this timeline needs so many notes to explain how the championship got to where it did and why.

Of course, holding onto the UFC light heavyweight belt has always been a tricky proposition. While dominant champions including Frank Shamrock, Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell and Jones have managed lengthy reigns, the fact remains that of the 13 UFC light heavyweight champs (counting Randy Couture’s two separate stints), six of them failed to defend the title even a single time, and two more were able to defend it only once. It speaks to the traditionally top-heavy nature of the division that some of the best fighters in history, even in their primes, were unable to fend off the onslaught of high-level challengers.

Here’s the 21-year history of the undisputed UFC light heavyweight title. It tells a story of a division loaded with star power from the very beginning. Capturing the championship was the mark of greatness but being able to hold onto it made legends.

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Sherdog.com Jon Jones Daniel Cormier Jon Jones Mauricio Rua Lyoto Machida Rashad Evans Forrest Griffin Quinton Jackson Chuck Liddell Randy Couture Vitor Belfort Randy Couture Tito Ortiz UFC 15.5 UFC 16 UFC 17 UFC 17.5 UFC 22 UFC 25 UFC 29 UFC 30 UFC 32 UFC 33 UFC 40 UFC 44 UFC 46 UFC 49 UFC 52 UFC 54 UFC 57 UFC 62 UFC 66 UFC 71 UFC 75 UFC 86 UFC 92 UFC 98 UFC 104 UFC 113 UFC 128 UFC 135 UFC 140 UFC 145 UFC 152 UFC 159 UFC 165 UFC 172 UFC 182 UFC 187 UFC 192 UFC 210 UFC 220 UFC 232 Sherdog.com

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