Skip to main content

UFC champions: Running down the current and former titlists, from Lesnar to Moreno

ufc champions

Being a member of the select groups of fighters that are or have been UFC champions is a prestigious honor in the sport of mixed martial arts. Many talented cage fighters have pursued UFC gold, but few have succeeded in the endeavor to become a true lineal champ.

On a roster of a few hundred competitors, only 12 fighters hold UFC titles currently. Let’s take a look at the reigning champions of the Octagon, and the legends that preceded their recent feats.

Related: UFC tonight – Get fight card info, best bets, and watch times for the next UFC event

Jon Jones, UFC heavyweight champion

ufc champions
Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Until January, Francis Ngannou was the reigning UFC heavyweight champion, and he earned that right by smashing his way to the top with otherwordly punching power. In 14 Octagon appearances, he has 10 knockout wins, including over the weight-class GOAT Stipe Miocic.

However, after not being able to come to terms on a new contract, the promotion released him from his contract and set up a bout for the vacant title fight that will pit former interim champion Ciryl Gane against two-time light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. The UFC GOAT didn’t need long to become the eigth person to win titles in two division’s and staked his claim as the new best heavyweight in the world when he became the division king at UFC 285.

Former UFC heavyweight champions

  • Mark Coleman
  • Maurice Smith
  • Randy Couture
  • Bass Rutten
  • Kevin Randleman
  • Ricco Rodriguez
  • Josh Barnett
  • Tim Sylvia
  • Frank Mir
  • Andrei Arlovski
  • Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera
  • Brock Lesnar
  • Shane Carwin
  • Cain Velasquez
  • Junior dos Santos
  • Fabricio Werdum
  • Stipe Miocic
  • Daniel Cormier
  • Francis Ngannou

Written by experts, for sports fans who want a FREE daily newsletter worth reading. Get Sportsnaut First today!

Jamahal Hill, UFC light heavyweight champion

ufc pound for pound rankings
Credit: Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Jiri Prochazka was the reigning UFC light heavyweight champion after winning the belt in a Fight of the Year contender clash against Glover Teixeira at UFC 275. However, he suffered a serious shoulder injury and relinquished the throne at the end of 2022.

It opened the door to an ahead-of-schedule title opportunity for rising star Jamahal Hill. And at UFC 283 he showed his pound-for-pound talent when he used a complete effort to beat former champion and future Hall-of-Famer Glover Teixeria.

Former UFC light heavyweight champions

  • Frank Shamrock
  • Tito Oritz
  • Randy Couture
  • Vitor Belfort
  • Chuck Liddell
  • Quinton Jackson
  • Rashad Evans
  • Lyoto Machida
  • Mauricio Rua
  • Jon Jones
  • Daniel Cormier
  • Jan Blachowicz
  • Glover Teixeira
  • Jiri Prochazka

Alex Pereira, UFC middleweight champion

ufc champions
Credit: Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Pereira became the new king of the middleweight division at UFC 281 with a shocking final-round win over his long-time rival Israel Adesanya. The Brazilian rose to the top of the division in record time and scored a third-straight combat sports victory (two previously in kickboxing) over one of the greatest fighters in UFC history.

See exclusives Sportsnaut videos on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.

Former UFC middleweight champions

  • Dave Menne
  • Murilo Bustamante
  • Evan Tanner
  • Rich Franklin
  • Anderson Silva
  • Chris Weidman
  • Luke Rockhold
  • Michael Bisping
  • Georges St-Pierre
  • Robert Whittaker
  • Israel Adesanya

Leon Edwards, UFC welterweight champion

Englishman Leon Edwards stunned the MMA world at UFC 278 when he emphatically ended arguably the greatest title reign in UFC welterweight history. The win wasn’t surprising because “Rocky” was a massive underdog. No, it was a shocker because after four rounds he was clearly on his way to a unanimous decision loss and scored an upex[ected head kick knockout over Kamaru Usman with just under a minute left in the fight.

Former UFC welterweight champions

  • Pat Miletich
  • Carlos Newton
  • Matt Hughes
  • BJ Penn
  • Georges St-Pierre
  • Matt Serra
  • Johnny Hendricks
  • Robbie Lawler
  • Tyron Woodley
  • Kamaru Usman

Islam Makhachev, UFC lightweight champion

ufc champions
Credit: Craig Kidwell-USA TODAY Sports

The UFC lightweight title is now firmly in the grasp of Russian star Islam Makhachev. He defeated former titlist, Charles Oliveira, at UFC 280 in dominant fashion. The Brazilian was just the latest victim in what has been a dominant ascension to the top of the weight class for Makhachev. It will be interesting to see if he can hold on to the title when he must fight the best in the world every time out.

Former UFC lightweight champions

  • Jens Pulver
  • Sean Sherk
  • BJ Penn
  • Frankie Edgar
  • Benson Henderson
  • Anthony Pettis
  • Rafael dos Anjos
  • Eddie Alvarez
  • Conor McGregor
  • Tony Ferguson
  • Khabib Nurmagomedov
  • Charles Oliveira

Alexander Volkanovski, UFC featherweight champion

ufc champions
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Alexander Volkanovski is one of the most complete fighters in all of MMA. There really is very little he can’t do in the cage. His rise to winning the UFC belt and follow-up title defenses have only solidified that fact. At this point, his legacy in the division is set and it is why he attempted to become a two-division champion in February of 2023.

Related: Who is the best UFC pound-for-pound fighter in the world?

In deciding to try for a second belt, it opened the door to top contender Yair Rodriguez facing and beating Josh Emmett in an interim title bout on the same card. Now the two title-holders will face off to unify the titles later in 2023.

Former UFC featherweight champions

  • Jose Aldo
  • Conor McGregor
  • Max Holloway

Aljamain Sterling, UFC bantamweight champion

ufc bantamweight rankings
Credit: USA Today Network

Aljamain Sterling is one of the more unfortunate UFC champions in promotion history. He is a very talented and elite-level bantamweight, however, his reign as division king came by way of a disqualification victory over former titlist Petr Yan. Nevertheless, he has defended the title since and risen up many UFC pound-for-pound rankings lists.

Former bantamweight UFC champions

  • Dominick Cruz
  • Renan Barao TJ Dillashaw
  • Cody Garbrandt
  • Henry Cejudo
  • Petr Yan

Brandon Moreno, UFC flyweight champion

ufc champions
Credit: Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

At UFC 283, Brandon Moreno scored a second decisive win in his four-fight series with fellow flyweight great and former champ Deiveson Figueiredo. The bout concluded one of the great feuds in UFC history and meant the end of the Brazilian’s run in the division. Moreno is now established as the second-greatest 125-pound fighter of all time.

Former flyweight UFC champions

  • Demetrious Johnson
  • Henry Cejudo
  • Brandon Moreno
  • Deiveson Figueiredo

Amanda Nunes, women’s UFC featherweight champion

ufc champions
Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via USA TODAY Sports

Amanda Nunes is the greatest female fighter in UFC and MMA history. Over 16 Octagon appearances, she has lost just twice and beaten some of the greatest women’s fighters of all time, en route to being the only female two-division champion in promotion history. She is the current UFC women’s featherweight champion, and very well could be the last with a common belief being the organization will likely drop the division if she retires.

Former women’s featherweight UFC champions

  • Germaine de Randamie
  • Cris Justino

Amanda Nunes, women’s UFC bantamweight champion

Nunes regained the title she lost to Julianna Pena — and originally won in 2016 — this year with another war at UFC 277. While at many points she displayed why she is the greatest female fighter ever, Pena once again showed her heart and why she is one of the most durable competitors to ever step inside the Octagon.

Former women’s bantamweight UFC champions

  • Ronda Rousey
  • Holly Holm
  • Miesha Tate
  • Amanda Nunes
  • Julianna Pena

Alexa Grasso, women’s UFC flyweight champion

ufc champions
Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko is not just one of the best female fighters of all time, she is one of the 25 best competitors ever to grace the Octagon — man or woman. That is why her loss to Alexa Grasso at UFC 285 was a stunning moment, because the champion seemed to be leading their fight late, but made a major miscue that lead to a shocking submission loss for the women’s MMA legend.

In beating Shevchenko, Grasso became the first Mexican female champion in UFC history.

Former UFC women’s flyweight champions

  • Nicco Montano
  • Valentina Shevchenko

Zhang Weili, women’s UFC strawweight champion

ufc champions
Credit: Paul Miller-USA TODAY Sports

At UFC 281, Zhang Weili became the third woman to become a two-time strawweight champion. She did so by beating another two-time champ, Carla Esparza, in dominant fashion at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The same arena where she came up short in her last attempt at winning back the title.

Former UFC women’s strawweight champions

  • Carla Esparza
  • Joanna JÄ™drzejczyk
  • Jessica Andrade
  • Zhang Weili
  • Rose Namajunas