At UFC 259 last weekend, Israel Adesanya attempted to join elite company and become just the fifth UFC fighter to become a simultaneous two division champion.
The Nigerian native moved up from Middleweight to Light Heavyweight to face Polish powerhouse Jan Blachowicz, but fell short losing via unanimous decision.
Adesanya was the favourite heading into the fight, highly regarded as one of the best strikers in MMA history and undefeated up until that point.
He even weighed in five pounds lighter than the required limit to help maintain his speed and fluidity, but it wasn’t to be for Adesanya who will now keep on defending his current belt for the time being.
So just how hard is it to achieve ‘Champ Champ’ status? These are the four legendary fighters to have successfully accomplished this in the UFC, and the obstacles that came their way in doing so.
The UFC’s biggest superstar, Conor McGregor, became the first fighter in the company’s history to become a simultaneous two division champion back in November 2016.
McGregor started in the UFC as a Featherweight, and a seven fight win streak led him to become champion in the division by defeating the pound for pound number one Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds.
McGregor initially was scheduled to fight the Lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos just three months later to attempt the feat, but a late injury to the Brazilian meant a change of plans and a Welterweight bout with Nate Diaz was agreed instead.
Losing the fight via submission, McGregor avenged his loss that summer, allowing him to compete for the Lightweight strap later in the year against the newly crowned Eddie Alvarez whilst still having the Featherweight title to his name.
The event was held at Madison Square Garden in New York, and McGregor put together one of the greatest title performances in UFC history by finishing Alvarez in the second round.
Competing in four fights in just 11 months, McGregor overcame adversity to become the trailblazer for becoming ‘Champ Champ’.
The recently retired fighter Daniel Cormier has had a glittering career and was the second fighter to become a double champion in the UFC.
The freestyle wrestler won the Light Heavyweight strap in 2015, when he defeated Anthony Johnson by submission.
He defended the belt multiple times after in a rematch with Johnson, a decision win over Alexander Gustafsson and knockout against Volkan Oezdemir until a second career loss to Jon Jones looked like the end of his title reign.
However, a positive drugs test for Jones after the contest and subsequent suspension from the sport led to Cormier being reinstated as champion.
As a result, Cormier moved up to Heavyweight in 2018 to compete against current champion Stipe Miocic, where an emphatic first round knockout earned him the strap and a place in the history books.
Cormier even defended the belt months later against Derrick Lewis, to which he submitted him in Cormier’s last ever professional win.
Perhaps the fighter who has become ‘Champ Champ’ in the most impressive style, Amanda Nunes has actively defended both her UFC Bantamweight and Featherweight belts since winning them both in late 2018.
Nunes won the Bantamweight title in 2016 with a submission victory over Miesha Tate, before defending her crown and gaining victories over Ronda Rousey, Valentina Shevchenko and Raquel Pennington to wipe out the division.
It was at this point when she decided to move up in weight and take on her toughest test yet, a fight against knockout artist Cris Cyborg.
The challenge didn’t faze the Brazilian, who sensationally knocked her fellow countrywoman out in just 51 seconds to become the third fighter to make UFC history.
Nunes has since defended the belts twice each and is on a 12 fight win streak as she looks unstoppable.
UFC president Dana White has admitted they are finding it tough to get her a competitive match up nowadays, and there is without doubt Nunes is the greatest women’s combat sports fighter of all time.
The latest fighter to join the illustrious group is 2008 Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo.
The American won gold in wrestling at just the age of 21, and used his skillset to evolve his entire game and head into mixed martial arts.
Having already suffered a loss to legendary fighter Demetrious Johnson, Cejudo worked his way up the rankings to fight him again for the Flyweight belt in 2018.
Being the underdog going into the fight, Cejudo managed to upset the odds to claim a split decision victory and gain revenge to earn the title.
Just five months later, Cejudo defended his Flyweight belt against the Bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, a man who himself was attempting to become a simultaneous two division champion, but failed when Cejudo knocked him out within 32 seconds of the fight.
Dillashaw failed a drugs test after the bout, and was served with an 18 month suspension which opened up the opportunity for Cejudo to compete for the vacant Bantamweight belt.
Beating Marlon Moraes in the process, Cejudo successfully earned the belt and therefore became the fourth ever simultaneous two division UFC champion.
In the modern era, becoming a two weight world champion is becoming more of a trend to leave more of a legacy in a fighter’s career, but is shown to be harder than what it looks.
Although, I’m sure more fighters will be added to the list over the years in time, and Max Holloway could have the potential to do so next.
The former Featherweight champion is hoping to get his title back in his next UFC fight, and his size and frame is appropriate to compete in the Lightweight division.
The Hawaii native is not even 30 years old yet, so has plenty of time to make this dream a reality to add to what is an already incredible career.
Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman could also make the jump up to Middleweight in time, already beating the top four contenders in his division.
Usman cuts a lot of weight to make 170 pounds, so could be a threat in the Middleweight division. He has expressed his disinterest in fighting his close friend Adesanya, so would rely on the ‘The Last Stylebender’ to test himself again and compete in the Light Heavyweight division consistently.
As for Adesanya, another crack at the 205 division is still a reasonable possibility in the future, especially since he is chasing a super fight with UFC legend Jon Jones.