UFC 152 Fight Card: Jon Jones and the 20 Most Dominant Champions in MMA History
There are always going to be new champions in MMA. Eventually, a champion will be dethroned, and a new one will be crowned.
Some, however, last longer than others.
There have been fighters in MMA who have been champion for years and years at a time. There are champions who haven't even lasted six months.
To take the leap from champion to dominant champion, fighters need to hold the belt for as long as they can while defeating top contenders, whoever they may be.
Here are the 20 most dominant champions in MMA history.
Love him or hate him—and yeah, you probably hate him—Jon Jones is one of the most dominant champions in history.
People will attempt to claim that all the former champions Jones has beat are too old, too small or unmotivated, but Jones has decimated everyone that he has faced.
His last five fights have been wins over Ryan Bader, Mauricio Rua, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans.
With a win on Saturday, Jones will tie Frank Shamrock and Chuck Liddell for second most light heavyweight title defenses.
"The Iceman" was also a dominant champion during his reign over the light heavyweight division. He knocked out Randy Couture to win the title, then he defended it four times, earning four more (T)KO victories.
Those five victories, in order, consisted of a knockout of Randy Couture, TKO of Jeremy Horn, a second knockout of Randy Couture, a TKO over Renato Sobral and a TKO over Tito Ortiz.
Liddell would lose the title to Rampage Jackson by TKO, which was a rematch of a fight in Pride in which Liddell was TKO'd.
Years before Chuck Liddell was champ, Tito Ortiz ruled over the light heavyweight division when he earned the most ever defenses of the light heavyweight belt.
He defeated Wanderlei Silva to win the belt, and he would then rattle off five straight victories over Yuki Kondo, Evan Tanner, Elvis Sinosic, Vladimir Matyushenko and Ken Shamrock. He would lose the title to Randy Couture by unanimous decision.
He fought for the title one more time, against Chuck Liddell at UFC 66 in a fight he lost by technical knockout.
Now we come to the UFC's first-ever light heavyweight champion, Frank Shamrock.
Shamrock won the title when he defeated Kevin Jackson at UFC Japan in 1997. He would go on to beat Igor Zinoviev, Jeremy Horn, John Lober and Tito Ortiz before he retired due to lack of competition.
Shamrock did eventually return to the cage, but it wasn't in the UFC, as he never fought for the organization again.
Who'd have thought that Anderson Silva would show up on a most dominant champions list? It's a complete shock to me too.
Silva won the middleweight title after only one fight in the UFC, and in the title fight, he knocked out Rich Franklin in less than three minutes.
After that, he would start an ongoing 13-fight winning streak, including two forays into the light heavyweight division and one non-title middleweight fight.
His next fight will be at light heavyweight against Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153.
Rich Franklin was the middleweight champion before Anderson Silva ever rolled into town.
Franklin won the title from Evan Tanner at UFC 53, when he earned a doctor stoppage in the fourth round of their fight.
Franklin would make his first title defense against The Ultimate Fighter 1 alumni Nate Quarry, and he would knock Quarry out in the first round. That knockout can now be seen in the opening of every UFC PPV.
After that, Franklin won a unanimous decision over David Loiseau at UFC 58.
Then, Anderson Silva fought Franklin, and we all know what happened there.
The current welterweight champion is up next, and with his six title defenses, Georges St-Pierre definitely deserves a spot on here.
St-Pierre won the title from Matt Serra at UFC 83, avenging the biggest upset in MMA history from when Serra knocked him out at UFC 69.
After that, St-Pierre would go on to defeat Jon Fitch, BJ Penn, Thiago Alves, Dan Hardy, Josh Koscheck and Jake Shields.
He will look to make a triumphant return to the Octagon by defeating interim champion Carlos Condit at UFC 154.
Matt Hughes was such a dominant champion that he could be on here twice.
Hughes first won the welterweight title at UFC 34, when he knocked out Carlos Newton with a slam. Then, he earned five title defenses with wins over Hayato Sakurai, Carlos Newton, Gil Castillo, Sean Sherk and Frank Trigg.
In his next fight, he lost the belt to BJ Penn by first-round submission.
After that, he would win one more fight and earn another shot at the welterweight title, a fight which he capitalized on.
He beat Georges St-Pierre for the welterweight title when he submitted him with an armbar at 4:59 of Round 1.
After that, Hughes would only technically defend the belt twice, against Frank Trigg and later against BJ Penn. However, sandwiched between those two fights was a win against Joe Riggs in which Riggs missed weight and a 175-pound catchweight fight against Royce Gracie.
After Hughes' win over Penn, he would lose the belt once again, this time to Georges St-Pierre.
I bet this is a name you wouldn't have been expecting to see on this list, but Pat Miletich was the first ever UFC welterweight champion and had four title defenses in his time.
He did fight—and lose—in other organizations throughout that time, but he was still a dominant champion.
He defeated Mikey Burnett for the title, then defended it against Jorge Patino, André Pederneiras, John Alessio and Kenichi Yamamoto.
He would then lose the title to Carlos Newton by submission.
Frankie Edgar is the former UFC lightweight champion and now a top contender in the featherweight division.
Edgar first won the lightweight title when he earned a unanimous decision over BJ Penn at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi.
He followed that up with another unanimous decision over Penn at UFC 118.
Then, his next two fights would be legendary ones against Gray Maynard at UFC 125—which ended in a draw—and UFC 136, in which Edgar knocked Maynard out in the fourth round.
Edgar would go on to lose his next fight against Benson Henderson at UFC 144.
BJ Penn won the vacant lightweight title when he defeated Joe Stevenson by second round submission at UFC 80.
He would defend the title three times while he held it, with one loss during that time as well.
After the win over Stevenson, Penn would go on to defeat Sean Sherk by TKO at UFC 84. Then, we got one of the biggest superfights in MMA history, as lightweight champion BJ Penn squared off with welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre with St-Pierre's title on the line.
Penn would lose the fight by TKO at the end of the fourth round and would return to the lightweight division.
In his next two fights, Penn earned stoppages over Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez, cementing himself as one of the best lightweights ever.
His next fight was against Frankie Edgar at UFC 112, a fight he would lose by unanimous decision.
Just to be clear right off the bat, Jose Aldo is on here for his combined title reign in the WEC and UFC, as the two ran one right into the other.
Aldo started off when he won the title from Mike Brown by TKO at WEC 44. After that, he would defend it with a unanimous decision over Urijah Faber and a knockout of Manny Gamburyan.
The WEC was then absorbed into the UFC, and Aldo was promoted to UFC featherweight champion.
His first fight saw him earn a unanimous decision over Mark Hominick, which he followed up with another unanimous decision over Kenny Florian.
Then he earned his first finish in the UFC, as he knocked out Chad Mendes in the first round with a huge knee.
As with Jose Aldo, Dominick Cruz is on here for his combined title reign in the UFC and WEC.
Cruz won the WEC bantamweight title when he defeated Brian Bowles by TKO at WEC 47. He would defend the title twice in the WEC, with two decision victories over Joseph Benavidez and Scott Jorgensen.
The win over Jorgensen was for the WEC title as well as the initial UFC title.
Cruz would then make his UFC debut at UFC 132 against Urijah Faber, a fight he won by unanimous decision. He would follow that up with another unanimous decision over Demetrious Johnson at UFC on Versus 6.
It's time to move outside the UFC and on to other MMA organizations around the world. What better place to start than Pride Fighting Championships, and with Fedor Emelianenko?
Fedor won the Pride heavyweight championship when he defeated Minotauro Nogueira by unanimous decision at Pride 25.
It would be quite awhile before Fedor defended the title, as he went 7-0 [1 NC] before his first defense, which would be another fight with Minotauro Nogueira, which Fedor also won by unanimous decision.
Fedor won again before defending the title against Mirko Cro Cop, another unanimous decision victory for "The Last Emperor."
Fedor would go 2-0 before his next defense, a submission victory over Mark Hunt in 2006.
That would be the last time that Fedor defended the Pride heavyweight belt.
Wanderlei Silva was once the most feared man in Pride. With his devastating striking style and vicious kicks, he was a scary dude.
Silva won the Pride middleweight title when he defeated Kazushi Sakuraba by TKO at Pride 17.
He would go on to defend it four times, earning a knockout over Kiyoshi Tamura, a TKO over Hiromitsu Kanehara, a knockout over Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and a decision over Ricardo Arona.
Silva did fight many times over that time span, as his overall record while he held the belt—not including winning the belt—was 13-2-1.
Up next is the former Strikeforce welterweight champion, Nick Diaz.
Diaz won the Strikeforce welterweight title at Strikeforce: Miami, when he defeated Marius Zaromskis by first-round knockout.
After that, he would defend his belt with a unanimous decision victory over KJ Noons, a second-round submission over Evangelista Santos and a first-round knockout of Paul Daley.
Diaz then made his move back over to the UFC.
In light of Melendez' most recent victory, a split decision over Josh Thomson, many have jumped off his bandwagon. However, you cannot deny what he has done during his time with the Strikeforce lightweight belt.
Melendez won the interim belt from Rodrigo Damm, and he would defend it against Mitsuhiro Ishida. Then, he unified the titles when he defeated Josh Thomson by unanimous decision.
He would go on to defend four more times after that, with a unanimous decision over Shinya Aoki, a TKO of Tatsuya Kawajiri, a unanimous decision over Jorge Masvidal and a split decision over Josh Thomson.
You didn't think I'd forget about the WEC, did you?
Carlos Condit won the WEC welterweight title in 2007 when he defeated John Alessio by second-round submission.
Condit would go on to defend the title three times, with a submission over Brock Larson, a submission over Carlo Prater and a TKO over Hiromitsu Miura.
After that fight, the WEC welterweight division was absorbed into the UFC, and Condit lost his UFC debut.
Urijah Faber was arguably the most dominant featherweight of all-time during his run in the WEC.
Faber won the belt at WEC 19 when he defeated Cole Escovedo by second-round TKO. He would go 4-0 in other organizations before defending the belt for the first time, including a win over Bibiano Fernandes.
When he was finally only a WEC fighter, he would defend his title five times, with wins over Joe Pearson by first-round submission to strikes, Dominick Cruz by first-round submission, Chance Farrar by first-round submission, Jeff Curran by second-round submission and Jens Pulver by unanimous decision.
He would fight for titles against multiple times in both the WEC and UFC at bantamweight and featherweight, but he is yet to win another title fight.
Miguel Torres is the former WEC bantamweight champion and is considered by most to be the second best bantamweight champion of all-time.
Torres won the title when he defeated Chase Beebe by submission at WEC 32. His first defense would be against Yoshiro Maeda, a fight he would win by TKO.
He followed that up with a TKO over Manny Tapia and a unanimous decision over Takeya Mizugaki.
He would lose the title to Brian Bowles by first-round knockout at WEC 42.
Tim McTiernan is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. For the latest news on everything MMA, follow him on Twitter @TimMcTiernan.
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