On Saturday night, Cain Velasquez recaptured the UFC heavyweight championship by crumbling Junior dos Santos in the main event of UFC 155. The belt represents the AKA member's status as the greatest heavyweight on the planet.
But where does Velasquez rank among the all-time UFC heavyweight champions who have also held this status symbol over the years?
The win kicks off the second reign for Velasquez, who becomes only one of three men to have multiple reigns as undisputed UFC champion. That helps boost him above fighters like Mark Coleman and Big Nog, who only had one reign.
Although Velasquez doesn't have a successful title defense to his credit like Kevin Randleman or Junior dos Santos, he deserves to be ranked above them based on his record against world-class competition.
That leaves him ranked fifth in my eyes. The previous champions who sit above him in the countdown are Andrei Arlovski, Tim Sylvia, Brock Lesnar and Randy Couture.
Arlovski is a one-time champion; however, he has two title defenses to his credit, and both came by way of first-round knockout.
Sylvia gets a lot of flack for letting himself go in recent years, but there is no denying his former greatness. Like Velasquez, he has two title reigns, but pulls ahead based on his three title defenses.
While Brock Lesnar also eats a lot of disrespect for the latter performances of his career, there is no questioning the impact he made on the heavyweight division. With a win over Randy Couture to get the belt-plus defenses against interim champions Frank Mir and Shane Carwin, there is little dispute that Velasquez will need some title defenses before his championship legacy is greater than that of Brock.
Ranking at No. 1, Randy Couture pops his head into the countdown. "Captain America" has three separate reigns as heavyweight champion and defended his belts as many times.
In November, I released a power ranking of every champion in UFC history. Using links to some of those slides as illustration, I've filtered that list and adjusted the position of Cain based on his UFC 155 win.
You can click any name to see their slide.
15. Josh Barnett
14. Bas Rutten
13. Shane Carwin
12. Big Nog
11. Ricco Rodriguez
10. Mark Coleman
09. Frank Mir
08. Maurice Smith
07. Kevin Randleman
06. Junior dos Santos
05. Cain Velasquez
04. Andrei Arlovski
03. Tim Sylvia
02. Brock Lesnar
01. Randy Couture
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