The Five Top UFC Champions of All-Time
Of the 200 something fighters currently signed to the UFC, most of them will never even compete for a title, let alone win one.
Since the UFC's inception of weight-classes and champions, there have been 36 men to hold UFC gold around their waistes.
Of those 36, there is a small handful of champions that stick out above the rest.
Here is a list of the top champions the UFC has had the honor to call their own.
Honorable Mention: B.J. Penn
B.J. Penn is only the second fighter to have held a UFC title in two different weight divisions.
In 2004, at UFC 46, Penn upset welterweight champion Matt Hughes with a first-round submission to capture his first title. Penn then left the UFC for various reasons and never defended the title.
Penn then came back to the UFC in 2006, but lost his first two fights against Georges St. Pierre and Matt Hughes in the welterweight division.
The UFC offered Penn a role on the fifth season of "The Ultimate Fighter" opposite his old nemesis, Jens Pulver.
Penn would move down to his more natural weight class at lightweight for the opportunity.
Penn easily disposed of Pulver with a second-round submission, and was awarded a shot at the UFC lightweight title.
Because lightweight champion Sean Sherk had recently been stripped of his belt due to a positive steroid test, Penn and Joe Stevenson were set to fight for the vacant title.
In what turned out to be one of the bloodiest fights in UFC history, Penn battered Stevenson before submitting him in the second round.
In his first defense, Penn took on former lightweight champ Sherk in a fight to establish the true champion since Sherk had never lost his title in the ring.
Most had figured the fight would turn into a grappling match, but Sherk was content to box with the bigger Penn.
Penn controlled the fight with his educated jab and in the closing seconds of the third round, knocked Sherk out with a knee to the face.
Penn then went on to defend his title against top contenders Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez, with neither fight going the distance.
In April, Penn lost his lightweight title to Frankie Edgar in what many are calling the worst decision of the year. Penn looked flat and tired throughout the fight, but seemed to still do enough to win at least three of the rounds.
Still, the judges saw it different and Penn will now rematch Edgar in August in an attempt to regain his title.
Final report: Champ in two weight classes with three defenses of lightweight title.
5. Matt Hughes
Matt Hughes was the first two-time welterweight champion and only the second fighter to win back his title after losing it.
Hughes first won the UFC welterweight title in 2001 when he knocked out Carlos Newton by slamming his way out of a triangle choke.
Hughes then met Japanese legend Hayato Sakurai in his first defense, which he won by a fourth-round TKO.
Hughes went on to defend that title four more times including wins over Sean Sherk and Frank Trigg.
In 2004, Hughes lost the title to B.J Penn in a major upset. Penn left the promotion after the win and the title was left vacant.
Hughes was matched with top contender Georges St. Pierre to establish a new champion. Hughes won by submission in the first round.
Matt then defended the title against Frank Trigg and B.J. Penn, with a couple catch-weight fights mixed in between.
In 2006, Hughes lost the title to George St. Pierre.
Final report: Two-time welterweight champion with seven title defenses, five of them consecutive.
4. Chuck Liddell
In 2003, Chuck Liddell was the well deserved No. 1 contender in the UFC light heavyweight division, but a match with champion Tito Ortiz was proving difficult to make for the promotion.
When Tito refused to fight Chuck in a negotiating ploy, the UFC created their first ever interim title and pitted Liddell against Randy Couture to fight for it. Chuck went on to lose that fight in a major upset.
After knocking out Tito Ortiz and Vernon White, Liddell was offered a shot at the real title now held by Couture.
In 2005, Liddell knocked out Couture in the first round to finally become the light-heavyweight champion.
He went on to defend the belt four times before losing it. All four defenses were against fighters that Liddell had already faced: Jeremy Horn, Randy Couture, Renato Sobral, and Tito Ortiz.
Liddell lost his title in 2007 by first-round TKO to Quinton Jackson.
Final report: Won the title at light-heavyweight and defended it four times.
3. Randy Couture
Randy Couture is the first fighter to have held UFC titles in two different weight classes. He was also the first two-time champion in the UFC.
In 1997, Randy Couture fought Maurice Smith for the UFC heavyweight title and won a majority decision.
Couture then left the UFC to compete in Vale Tudo Japan and was stripped of his title.
In 2000, Couture returned to the UFC and stopped Kevin Randleman by TKO in the third round to win his old title. He defended the title twice against Pedro Rizzo, the first by controversial decision and the second by TKO.
Couture then lost the title to Josh Barnett by TKO in the seond round, but Barnett tested positive for steroids after the bout and was subsequently stripped of the title.
The UFC matched Couture with rising heavyweight Ricco Rodriguez to compete for the vacant title, and Randy submitted to strikes in the fifth round.
With a noticeable size difference growing between Couture and the rest of the heavyweights, the UFC offered Couture a shot at a newly created interim light-heavyweight title against Chuck Liddell.
Randy went on to stop Chuck in the third round, and then unified the light-heavyweight belts against Tito Ortiz.
In his first defense of the legitimate title, Randy faced Vitor Belfort at UFC 46. Randy was cut in the opening seconds and Vitor was declared the winner.
Many felt it was a bad decision to give Belfort the win, but Randy got his rematch just seven months later and took back his title with a bloody third-round TKO.
The next year, Chuck Liddell knocked out Couture for the belt. After a third-round submission over Mike Van Arsdale, Randy was knocked out once again by Liddell. The loss prompted Couture to retire in the octagon that night.
As we all know, the retirement didn't last and the next year Randy moved up to heavyweight and took the title from Tim Silvia via unanimous decision.
After a stellar defense of his title against Gabriel Gonzaga, Randy lost his belt to Brock Lesnar by second-round TKO.
Final report: Five-time champion in two weight classes with three separate defenses of the heavyweight title.
2. Georges St. Pierre
Georges St. Pierre first won the title in 2006 when he knocked out Matt Hughes in the second round at UFC 65.
In his first defense, St. Pierre met TUF season four winner Matt Serra at UFC 69. In arguably the biggest upset of all time, Serra stopped St. Pierre by TKO in the first round.
Georges only had to win one fight over Josh Koscheck before he was given an interim title fight against Matt Hughes, due to Serra being out with a back injury.
St. Pierre submitted Hughes in the second round and then went on to stop Serra by TKO less than two weeks past the one year anniversary of their first fight. This made St. Pierre only the second two-time welterweight champion and only the fourth fighter to win his title back in the UFC.
Stellar defenses over Jon Fitch, B.J. Penn, Thiago Alves and Dan Hardy followed, and St. Pierre is now scheduled to give Josh Koscheck a shot at his title.
Final report: Two-time welterweight champion with four consecutive defenses.
1. Anderson Silva
In just his second fight for the organization, Anderson Silva won the UFC middleweight title by knocking out Rich Franklin in the first round.
Anderson was scheduled to make his first defense against Travis Lutter, but Lutter failed to make weight which meant he could not fight for the title. The bout was changed to three rounds and Silva won by submission in the second.
In the first defense of his title, Silva knocked out Nate Marquardt in the closing seconds of the first round. He then stopped Rich Franklin in a rematch and submitted Dan Henderson in a highly anticipated showdown.
Silva alternated between middleweight and light-heavyweight for his next few fights.
With three more defenses of his title against Patrick Cote, Thales Leites, and Demian Maia, he now holds the record with six consecutive title defenses.
He is scheduled to defend his title against Chael Sonnen next month at UFC 117.
Final report: Won the middleweight title and defended it six times.