Finally, we can report on some good news for a change during this pandemic. Live sports are making a return with the UFC getting the green light to hold its next event. UFC 249 will broadcast live from the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida on the 9th of May. The card was originally postponed like most sporting events around the world but recently got permission to go ahead with the blessing of the Mayor of Florida Lenny Curry, Florida State Boxing Commission Executive Director Patrick Cunningham, UFC President Dana White, officials at the venue, UFC fighters and staff involved and having Donald Trump on your side certainly helps.
Of course, it goes without saying that the event will take place behind closed doors and under strict health and safety guidelines to comply with Covid – 19 restrictions. Honestly, who cares once the fighters and staff involved are comfortable its great to have some semblance of live sports back. Its been said here plenty of times sports is not essential but in times like these it is the escapism that cannot be played down.
Plus, the card is stacked with like fights like Henry Cejudo vs Dominick Cruz, Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje and Francis Ngannou vs Jair Rozenstruik on the main card. Anthony Pettis vs Donald Cerrone, Carla Esparza vs Michelle Waterson, Ronaldo Souza vs Uriah Hall and Fabricio Werdum vs Aleksei Oleinik on the prelims yes that is one stacked prelim. All them crazy fun fights plus more that we will get into fully closer to the event with some of the best fighters currently on the roster in their divisions.
If your Tony Fergusons and Francis Ngannous of this world are currently some of the best in their weight classes who are the all time best in these weight classes? So that is what we are here to look at and deciding who is the best champions ever from every UFC weight class in the companies history. We will be taken longevity, championship reigns and over all legacy into account. We will not be including tournament winners and Superfight Champions from the early UFC days.
UFC Women’s Featherweight Division (145lbs)
Honourable Mention – Cris Cyborg
We will quickly go through the women’s divisions even though there is not much history to go off in most of them, but the divisions have produced some big stars in the sport. None of them are bigger than Amanda Nunes currently. Cyborg might be getting hard done by here as Nunes is still yet to defend here title. However, it cannot be stated enough that Nunes destroyed Cyborg in their fight for the featherweight strap. Plus, Dana White has claimed that during her reign Cyborg turned down offered fights which is evident by here two defences in her 517-day reign with the only real test coming against Holly Holm at UFC 219. Amanda Nunes is also the first ever female double champion in the UFC now holding the featherweight and bantamweight titles she had to be on this list.
UFC Women’s Bantamweight Division (135lbs)
Honourable Mention – Amanda Nunes
Razor close decision between these two but again its Ronda Rousey she had to be on here somewhere. All four champions in this division’s history have been big stars but at her peak nobody was bigger than Ronda in the women’s division. Hell, even in the entire company her and Conor McGregor had the biggest spotlights put on them by the UFC. She is a pioneer of the sport and held the title for over 1,000 days with six successful defences most of which did not even make it past the first minute let alone the first round. Yes the sport caught up with her very quickly and her stand up was poor which seen her get brutally knocked out by Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes but for all she did for women’s MMA her legacy cant just been thrown to one side.
UFC Women’s Flyweight Division (125lbs)
Easiest pick of the lot here the division was only set up in late 2017 and she is only the second ever champion and the only one to defend the title. She is currently over 500 days into her reign with three successful defences and honestly does not look like dropping her title anytime
UFC Women’s Strawweight Division (115lbs)
Honourable Mentions – Rose Namajunas and Zhang Weilli
Joanna dominated the early days of the Strawweight division winning the title at UFC 185. She went on a tear defending the title five times against some stiff competition like her fellow Polish native Karolina Kowalkiewicz and former champion Jessica Andrade. Joanna was defeated by both of our honourable mentions, but this raises my point of overall legacy. Just because you are beaten on any giving day does not meant the person that beat you is automatically better than you forever. Legacies and title reigns do not just vanish in fans memories especially if the person that beat you lost the title straight away. Its just something to keep in mind as we move on to the men’s divisions.
UFC Flyweight Division (125lbs)
Honourable Mention – Henry Cejudo
Following on from the previous point while Cejudo did beat Johnson for the flyweight title Johnson is still easily the best flyweight to grace the company. He was the first ever UFC Flyweight Champion and held the title for 2,142 days and defended the title 11 times against some stiff competition like Joseph Benavidez, John Dodson, Tim Elliot and Cejudo in their first meeting. He was and still is criminally underrated by lots of people in and out of the UFC. Soon as he lost his title, he was involved in the first ever MMA trade between the UFC and One Championship with Johnson going to One and Ben Askren going into the UFC.
UFC Bantamweight Division (135lbs)
Honourable Mentions – Renan Barao and TJ Dillashaw
Poor Henry Cejudo despite being the current flyweight and bantamweight champion he fails to make it on to either list. To be fair this is another choice that could be relatively easy. Dominick Cruz was the first ever UFC Bantamweight Champion and has had two reigns with the title with three defences spread out over 1, 465 days between them.
Unfortunately, it is a career full of injuries undergoing two knee surgeries in 2012 and in 2014 he torn his groin forcing him to vacant his bantamweight title. Again, he soon went under the knife with another ACL surgery in his other knee. After over four years out he returned in 2016 to win his second bantamweight title after all those injuries it was a huge achievement. He was truly a fighter ahead of his time with his footwork and attitude towards to sport. He even has a chance to become a three-time champ on May 9th adding to his already impressive career.
UFC Featherweight Division (145lbs)
Honourable Mentions – Conor McGregor and Max Halloway
A tough call this one but forgetting about his 13 second knockout against McGregor for a second for a long time Aldo was the king of the division. He was the first ever featherweight champion and held the title for 1,848 days in his original run defending against great fighters like Frankie Edgar, Chad Mendes, Kenny Florian and Korean Zombie. Before the McGregor fight, he looked unstoppable and even bounced back and beat Frankie Edgar again to become interim champion in 2016 and promoted to undisputed champion after the UFC stripped McGregor for inactivity.
Aldo has now moved down to bantamweight and was scheduled to fight Cejudo on May 9th, but visa issues forced him out of the fight due to the current global pandemic. This being the case surly he is next in line to face the winner of the Cejudo and Cruz fight which could see him become a champion at two different weight classes in time.
UFC Lightweight Division (155lbs)
Honourable Mentions – BJ Penn, Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson A division that has been plagued with interim championship runs lately but Khabib has emerged now as the undisputed champion. He is one of the best pounds for pound fighters in the world today. He holds an undefeated record of 28-0. While only being early into his title reign only winning it back September but his wrestling ability is off the charts and unique. He has managed to stay undefeated in a stacked lightweight division full of talent. He still has plenty of big fights available to him with the obvious fight with Tony Ferguson being the one every fan wants. If he were to win that fight it would surly get rid of any lingering doubt that he is the best lightweight of all time.
UFC Welterweight Division (170lbs)
Georges St – Pierre
Honourable Mentions – Pat Miletich, Matt Hughes and Tyron Woodley
It simply had to be GSP he is one of the greatest to ever grace the sport and a huge household name. Even when he came back from his spell away from the sport, he looked fantastic in the Octagon. He is one of the greatest champions to ever hold UFC gold over his two reigns and he beat the best the welterweight division had to offer at time. Honestly look at these names Matt Hughes, Jon Fitch, BJ Penn, Thiago Alves, Dan Hardy, Josh Koscheck, Jake Shields, Carlos Condit, Nick Diaz and Johny Hendricks that’s a who’s who list of serious talent all at the top of their game at the time.
Now retied surly its only a matter of time before he goes into the UFC Hall of Fame for his stellar career.
UFC Middleweight Division (185lbs)
Honourable Mentions – Rich Franklin, Chris Weidman, Michael Bisping and Israel Adesanya
Take everything that was just said about GSP and apply it to Anderson Silva he is a striker like we have never seen before with a fan friendly style that made him adored in the MMA community instantly. I do not like getting personal on these articles, but he is the fighter who really piqued my interest first and got me hooked into MMA. He went on a rampage during his 2,457-day title reign knocking off the likes of Nate Marquardt, Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, Demian Maia, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort and Yushin Okami. He also holds the record for most UFC knockouts with 11 and all time win streak with 16 from 2006 until 2012.
The world was stunned when he got knocked out by Chris Weidman to lose his title and then horrified when he horrifically broke his leg in the rematch. At age 45 father time seems to be creeping up on his career. There will be no doubt that Silva is another man that will soon be a Hall of Famer.
UFC Light Heavyweight Division (205lbs)
Honourable Mentions – Frank Shamrock, Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin and Daniel Cormier
Just like Kanye West its hard being a Jon Jones fan it really is. I know its hard but during this entry lets just forget about all his mistakes from outside of the cage. If you do not know what I am talking about Google is your friend.
Jo Jones currently stands top of the UFC pound for pound rankings and while UFC ranking systems are flawed not many will argue with that. He can do it all his striking is out of this world, he is a great wrestler, he has great cardio and can finish fights. He holds the record for the most title wins in UFC history with 14. He has won title fights against the likes of Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, Alexander Gustafsson and Daniel Cormier. Sadly, the only thing that stop this man’s legacy from becoming the greatest fighter of all time is Jon Jones himself.
UFC Heavyweight Division (265lbs)
Honourable Mentions – Mark Coleman, Randy Couture, Frank Mir, Brock Lesnar, Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos and Daniel Cormier
As you can tell by the amount of honourable mentions this was a tough one to call. With the unpredictable nature of these big boys with enough power in their fist its like getting hit by a truck it was always going to be hard to pick. Title reigns do not tend to last to long at heavyweight because of this many greats only having short runs.
However, it is current UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic that gets the nod. He is currently on his second reign after avenging his defeat to Cormier back in August. During his first run he defended the title three times which is the record at heavyweight. He defended it against Alistair Overeem, Junior Dos Santos and Francis Ngannou over a 785-day period. He is now on his second title run and at 37 he still has plenty of great fights ahead of him to expand his title defence record.