UFC Heavyweight Champions: A Comprehensive List

How many UFC Heavyweight Champions have we seen since 1997? Let's take a look at the list of the big boys in the UFC.

UFC Heavyweight Champions: A Comprehensive List
Wade McElwain

Written by: Wade McElwain

(Senior Sports Writer)

Fact checked by: Umaima Saeed

(Sports Writer)

Last updated: 2024-02-20

In the adrenaline-pumping world of UFC, the Heavyweight division has consistently produced some of the most iconic and dominant fighters in the sport's history. Everyone loves to see it when the big boys throw down! From the early days of Mark Coleman to the current reign of Jon Jones, the lineage of UFC Heavyweight champions is a testament to sheer athleticism, skill, and determination. Let's take a closer look at the comprehensive list of UFC Heavyweight champions, tracing their paths to glory and the legacies they've left behind, and we’ll also look at who is the UFC heavyweight champion right now. 

UFC Heavyweight Champions

1. Mark Coleman (Feb 7, 1997 - Dec 21, 1997): Known as "The Hammer," Coleman was the inaugural UFC Heavyweight champion, showcasing formidable wrestling skills that paved the way for his reign.

2. Maurice Smith (Dec 21, 1997 - May 15, 1998): Smith's technical striking and defensive prowess secured him the championship, demonstrating the evolution of mixed martial arts.

3. Randy Couture (1st reign) (May 15, 1998 - Dec 10, 1999): Couture's versatile skill set and determination made him a force to be reckoned with during his first tenure as champion.

4. Kevin Randleman (Nov 17, 1999 - Feb 23, 2000): Randleman's explosive athleticism and ground-and-pound tactics marked a brief but impactful chapter in UFC Heavyweight history.

5.  Randy Couture (2nd reign) (Feb 23, 2000 - Mar 3, 2001): Couture's return to the championship throne solidified his status as one of the division's greatest competitors.

6. Josh Barnett (Mar 22, 2002 - Jul 26, 2002): Barnett's submission skills and strategic approach added a dynamic element to the Heavyweight division.

7. Randy Couture (3rd reign) (Mar 22, 2003 - Sep 26, 2003): Couture's third reign showcased his enduring dominance and ability to adapt to emerging challengers.

8. Tim Sylvia (1st reign) (Sep 26, 2003 - Feb 4, 2006): Sylvia's imposing size and striking power made him a formidable champion during a period of transition in the division.

9. Andrei Arlovski (Feb 4, 2006 - Jul 8, 2006): Arlovski's dynamic striking and athleticism captivated audiences during his brief but impactful championship reign for ‘The Pitbull’.

10. Tim Sylvia (2nd reign) (Apr 15, 2006 - Oct 14, 2006): Sylvia's second reign showcased his resilience and adaptability as he reclaimed the championship.

11. Randy Couture (4th reign) (Mar 3, 2007 - Nov 15, 2008): Couture's fourth reign cemented his legacy as one of the sport's all-time greats, showcasing his versatility and longevity.

12. Brock Lesnar (Nov 15, 2008 - Oct 23, 2010): Lesnar's unparalleled combination of size, strength, and athleticism propelled him to championship glory in a relatively short span of time.

13. Cain Velasquez (1st reign) (Oct 23, 2010 - Nov 15, 2011): Velasquez's relentless pressure and elite wrestling skills made him a dominant force in the Heavyweight division.

14. Junior dos Santos (Nov 12, 2011 - Dec 29, 2012): Dos Santos' precision striking and knockout power solidified his status as a fan favorite and champion.

15. Cain Velasquez (2nd reign) (Dec 29, 2012 - Jun 13, 2015): Velasquez's second reign showcased his ability to overcome adversity and maintain his position atop the division.

16. Fabricio Werdum (Jun 13, 2015 - May 14, 2016): Werdum's submission prowess and underrated striking made him a unique and formidable champion during his reign.

17. Stipe Miocic (1st reign) (May 14, 2016 - Jul 7, 2018): Miocic's durability, boxing skills, and adaptability helped him establish a dominant reign as champion.

18. Daniel Cormier (Jul 7, 2018 - Aug 15, 2019): Cormier's versatility and high-level wrestling made him a formidable champion, further solidifying his status as one of the sport's all-time greats.

19. Stipe Miocic (2nd reign) (Aug 17, 2019 - Mar 27, 2021): Miocic's second reign showcased his resilience and ability to overcome adversity, solidifying his legacy as one of the division's greatest champions.

20. Francis Ngannou (Mar 27, 2021 - Aug 7, 2021): Ngannou's explosive power and finishing ability made him a fearsome champion during his brief reign. Just ask Tyson Fury.


21. Ciryl Gane (Aug 7, 2021 - Mar 4, 2023): Gane's technical mastery and diverse skill set have positioned him as a rising star in the Heavyweight division.

22. Jon Jones (Mar 4, 2023 - Nov 11, 2023): Jones' entry into the Heavyweight division marked a significant moment in UFC history, showcasing his unparalleled talent and potential. Jones is considered the ‘current champion’, despite not having fought in a while.

23. Tom Aspinall (Nov 11, 2023 - Present): Aspinall's emergence as interim champion signifies a new era in the UFC Heavyweight division, with his promising skill set and potential to become a dominant force in the sport. This British fighter is considered the ‘Interim Champion’ as of March 2024. 

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From the early pioneers like Mark Coleman to the modern-day titans like Jon Jones, the UFC Heavyweight division has seen an incredible evolution over the years. Each champion has left an indelible mark on the sport, contributing to its rich tapestry of history and inspiring future generations of fighters. As the division continues to evolve, one thing remains certain: the quest for UFC Heavyweight gold will always be one of the most compelling storylines in mixed martial arts.
The fans are always going to want to watch the biggest boys thrown down, which makes the Heavyweight division so fun to watch.

FAQ's

Who was the youngest Heavyweight UFC Champion?
The youngest Heavyweight UFC Champion to date is Jon Jones, who won the title at the age of 23 years and 242 days by defeating Maurício Rua at UFC 128 in March 2011.


Which Heavyweight UFC Champion had the longest reign?

Stipe Miocic holds the record for the longest reign as Heavyweight UFC Champion. He defended his title three times during his reign, which lasted for 1,358 days, from May 14, 2016, to August 15, 2020.

Who holds the record for the most consecutive title defenses in the Heavyweight division?
Stipe Miocic also holds the record for the most consecutive title defenses in the Heavyweight division. He successfully defended his title three times between 2018 and 2020.

Who was the first-ever Heavyweight UFC Champion?
The inaugural Heavyweight UFC Champion was Mark Coleman, who won the title by defeating Dan Severn at UFC 12 in February 1997. Coleman is considered one of the pioneers of the sport and a trailblazer in the Heavyweight division.

Who is the current UFC Champion?

Jon Jones is the current champion, but Tom Aspinall is the interim Heavyweight Champion. 

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Wade McElwain

Wade McElwain

Wade McElwain is our Mr. NFL, a bona fide North American sports nut who knows about NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA plus MMA boxing and more. Originally from Canada, Wade is also an international award-winning stand-up comedian; host of numerous TV game shows; and a TV producer & writer. He also runs NFL in London-the largest NFL fan group in Europe, and has hosted NFL events at Wembley and around the world. Yes, he lives alone and does nothing but watch sports.

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