Five Worst Title Reigns in MMA History
Some say you're not a champion until you defend your title.
I'm here to tell you there is absolutely no truth to that. If you won the belt, then you are the champion—end of story.
However, defending the title does do a number for how you are remembered as a champion.
There are some that have won a title, but their reign is so quick that many forget they were even champion at all.
Well, it would be hard to forget that any of these fighters ever wore gold around their waist, but still, it was not a lasting image.
Here are the five worst title reigns in MMA history.
Tell me below if I forgot some.
Honorable mention: B.J. Penn (welterweight)
In 2004, B.J. Penn was positively the best lightweight in the world. He had just submitted the No. 2 lightweight Takanori Gomi in the third round, but had failed to capture the UFC lightweight title in his two previous attempts.
The UFC was losing interest in the lightweight division and didn't have plans to establish a new champion any time soon. Instead, Penn moved up to welterweight to challenge champion Matt Hughes.
Penn was a large underdog, but proved quickly in the fight that he was not going to be pushed around by the bigger champ. Midway through the first round, Penn landed a hard right hand to the grounded Matt Hughes and stunned him.
While Hughes was struggling to gain his senses back, Penn latched in a rear-naked choke and became the UFC welterweight champion.
Penn never defended this title because he left the promotion over contract issues. When Penn returned to the UFC, he lost to Georges St. Pierre at welterweight and then lost to Hughes in a shot at the title he never truly lost.
Since then, he became the UFC lightweight champion. But since winning the title, he never won another fight in the UFC welterweight division.
5. Forrest Griffin/ Rashad Evans
Within one year's time, the UFC light heavyweight title was held by four different people.
In July of 2008, Forrest Griffin upset Quinton Jackson to take the title Jackson had captured from Chuck Liddell. It was a terrific five-round war, and though it was tough to get used to the thought of Griffin being the champ, he had earned it.
Two months later, Rashad Evans scored his own knockout of Liddell and earned himself a shot at the champion. Griffin and Evans were set to meet in the main event of UFC 92 in a battle of former TUF winners.
Griffin clearly won the first two rounds, but in the third, Rashad caught a kick from Griffin and landed a straight right hand, dropping the champion. Rashad then followed up with some heavy shots on the ground and finished Griffin.
Griffin's title reign lasted about five months.
Five months after winning the title, Rashad met undefeated contender Lyoto Machida. Going into the fight, some were surprised to find Machida the betting favorite over the champion.
The first round was mostly uneventful, especially on Evans' part. In the second, Machida dropped Evans with a left hand and didn't stop punching until the champion was unconscious. It was the first loss of Rashad's career, and it was a brutal one.
Evan's title reign lasted about five months.
4. Mark Coleman
In 1997, Mark Coleman was seen as unbeatable. He had won both the UFC 10 and 11 tournaments, and then became the first UFC heavyweight champion by beating Dan Severn for the newly-created title.
Most assumed it would be a long title reign for “The Hammer,” especially since his first title defense was against Maurice Smith, who is primarily a striker, and the general consensus in the sport at the time was that wrestling was a necessity to win in the UFC.
Smith put that notion to sleep when his educated guard, better conditioning, and precise striking were all key ingredients in taking the title away from the muscular champion at UFC 12.
Coleman held the title for five months and never defended it.
3. Matt Serra
Matt Serra became the owner of the biggest upset in MMA history when he stopped welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre in the first round at UFC 69.
Serra then accepted a role as coach on The Ultimate Fighter to heat up his rivalry with former champ Matt Hughes, who took the place of opposing coach. The feud was brought to a boil, with fans craving to see who would win after so much pre-fight talk.
However, just over a month before their fight, Serra was forced to pull out with a back injury, and St. Pierre took his place, getting a win over Hughes.
Instead, Serra's first defense would be against the man he took the belt from, and the rematch would be less than two weeks after the year anniversary of Serra's shocking upset to win the title.
In the rematch, the fight went how many expected the first to go, and Serra was completely controlled until being stopped in the second round.
Serra's reign may have lasted just over a year, but he never was able to defend the title.
2. Brian Bowles
In August of 2009, Brian Bowles was set to challenge the man many considered to be the best bantamweight of all time, Miguel Torres.
The bout started as many had figured with Torres being aggressive and landing multiple hard shots on the chin of Bowles.
To his credit, Bowles took those shots but never lost focus, and seconds later, landed his own punch that dropped Torres to the mat.
A few hard shots on the ground from Bowles and Torres was unconscious. Bowles was the new WEC bantamweight champion.
In his first defense, Bowles was matched with the only once beaten Dominick Cruz. Cruz went on to frustrate Bowles with his constant movement and unorthodox striking for two rounds.
Bowles then quit before coming out for the third, claiming he had a broken hand and could not continue.
His reign lasted seven months but he never defended his title.
1. Vitor Belfort
There are many that discount Belfort's title reign because of the controversial nature of him winning it, but it is a chapter in the history books nonetheless, no matter how short and insignificant it was.
Belfort won the title from Randy Couture at UFC 46 when Vitor grazed Randy with a punch, and part of his glove cut Randy's eye lid. The fight was immediately brought to a halt to check the eye of a wincing Couture.
After the doctors evaluated the cut, the fight was called off because of the dangerous placement of the cut.
Many thought the fight should be called a no-contest because it was a piece of the glove that caused the cut. Still, Belfort was announced the new light heavyweight champion.
In their rematch just seven months later, Couture had his revenge and battered Belfort against the cage for three rounds, leaving blood stains splattered around the octagon.
Belfort did not come out of his corner for the fourth round, and Randy had his title back.
It was the least impressive title reign of any UFC champion.