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MMA: Anderson Silva and The Top 15 Title Defenders Of All Time

Timothy MaloneCorrespondent IFebruary 18, 2011

MMA: Anderson Silva and The Top 15 Title Defenders Of All Time

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    Anderson Silva holds the record for the most consecutive UFC title defenses. But is he the best title defender of all time?

    With another successful defense of his belt earlier this month at UFC 126, Anderson Silva has continued his record-breaking run as UFC Middleweight Champion.

    When looking at all the major mixed martial arts organizations over time and all the titles, does Silva rank the best ever at defending a championship? Here are the top 15 fighters who have been best at defending their titles.

15. Pat Miletich

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Title: UFC Welterweight Champion

    Successful Defenses: Four

    Wins/Losses while champion: 6-4

     

    Details of reign

    Pat Miletich won his title at UFC Ultimate Brazil on October 16, 1998. At a time before unified rules, the fight was a one-round, 21-minute bout. It should be noted that the title did not previously exist and was created as the Lightweight Championship. All fighters under 200 lbs. could fight for the belt. It later was more narrowly defined and was rebranded as the modern Welterweight Championship. Miletich won by decision against Mikey Burnett to become the first ever holder of that title.

    Miletich would next defend his title at UFC 18 against Jorge Patino, winning another decision.

    Miletich would actually lose his next fight. At the time UFC champions would sometimes fight in other organizations. He fought in Hawaiian promotion SuperBrawl against Jutaro Nakao and was submitted after nine minutes.

    He went on to fight in Midwestern organization Cage Combat where he submitted Clayton Miller via triangle just 40 seconds into the fight.

    Returning at UFC 21 to defend his belt, he defeated Andre Pederneiras when the doctor stopped the fight because of a bad cut.

    Staying busy with his fifth fight in 1999, Miletich fought for another Midwestern promotion called Extreme Challenge where he beat Shonie Carter by decision.

    At World Extreme Fighting he lost his next bout when his corner threw in the towel eight minutes into a match with Jose Landi-Johns.

    Miletich’s third official title defense was at UFC 26. He submitted John Alessio with an armbar to keep his belt.

    Going overseas to fight for Japanese promotion RINGS, he lost his next fight to Kiyoshi Tamura by majority decision.

    The fourth title defense was at UFC 29. Miletich successfully caught Kenichi Yamamoto in a guillotine choke.

    Miletich lost his belt at UFC 31 on May 4, 2001. Carlos Newton submitted him in the third round.

14. Abel Cullum

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    Title: KOTC Flyweight Champion

    Successful Defenses: Four

    Wins/Losses while champion: 5-3

    Why he ranks 14th: Abel Cullum ranks above Miletich because the only two fights Cullum lost besides his unsuccessful defense were for another title and in a grand prix.

     

    Details of reign

    Abel Cullum won the 135 lbs. Flyweight Championship at King of the Cage: Reckless on May 17, 2008. Note that this is the equivalent weight-class to what other organizations like the UFC call bantamweight. This was the first defense for then-champion Ryan Diaz. Cullum got a rare fifth round finish when he caught Diaz in an armbar with a little over three minutes left to fight.

    Cullum next fought for the vacant EliteXC bantamweight title. Cullum lost the fight, however, to Wilson Reis by unanimous decision.

    Cullum returned to KOTC and defended his flyweight belt by submitting Brett Roller with a rear-naked choke in the first round.

    He was next offered a spot in Japanese promotion Dream’s Featherweight Grand Prix. Dream’s featherweight division is roughly equivalent to KOTC’s flyweight. Cullum won his opening round match with an unanimous decision over Akiyo Nishiura.

    He would not make it past the quarterfinals, however. In his next fight in the tournament Cullum was submitted by Hideo Tokoro.

    Returning to KOTC for his second title defense, Cullum battled all five rounds to win an unanimous decision over Richard Montano.

    In February of last year Cullum defended his KOTC belt again. He submitted Joe Coca in the first round with a kimura.

    Three months later Cullum again defended his title with a submission victory in the opening round, this time over Joshua Montoya.

    Cullum lost his title in his most recent fight at King of the Cage: No Mercy, which took place on September 17, 2010. The fight went all five rounds and Jimmie Rivera won by split decision.

13. Aaron Wetherspoon

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    Title: KOTC Welterweight Champion

    Successful Defenses: Four, plus a No Contest

    Wins/Losses while champion: 4-2, one NC

    Why he ranks 13th: Aaron Wetherspoon ranks above Abel Cullum because Wetherspoon only lost one fight other than his unsuccessful defense.

     

    Details of reign

    The title was vacant when Aaron Wetherspoon fought Thomas Kenney at King of the Cage: Rapid Fire on August 4, 2006. Wetherspoon knocked out Kenney with just six seconds left to go in the second round to win the belt.

    Wetherspoon had his first title defense against Dave Terrel. He won by unanimous decision; at the time fights for the championship were only three rounds.

    His second defense of the belt was over quickly as he knocked Bryson Kamaka out in just 11 seconds.

    For a third title defense Wetherspoon faced LaVerne Clark, and again won in the first round, but this time by submission.

    His streak of wins got him an invitation to appear on Strikeforce-EliteXC: Shamrock vs Baroni, but he lost the match via unanimous decision to Mike Pyle.

    Wetherspoon rebounded with another victorious defense of his belt in KOTC by knocking out John Mahlow.

    Wetherspoon’s next title defense was against Anthony Lapsley. Unfortunately, in the second round the two fighters' heads collided and they were unable to continue. The bout was ruled a No Contest and a rematch arranged.

    Aaron Wetherspoon lost the rematch and his title August 14, 2008 at King of the Cage: Biohazard.  Anthony Lapsley submitted him in the first round. Wetherspoon has never had another fight since.

12. Mac Danzig

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    Title: KOTC Lightweight Champion

    Successful Defenses: Four

    Wins/Losses while champion: 4-1

    Why he ranks 12th: Mac Danzig ranks above Aaron Wetherspoon because Danzig never lost a fight while champion.

     

    Details of reign

    Mac Danzig faced Takumi Nakayama at King of the Cage: Execution Day on October 29, 2005 in what would be Nakayama’s first defense of the KOTC Lightweight Championship. Danzig took the title after Nakayama was deemed unable to continue in the third round.

    Danzig’s first defense was against Jason Ireland and went the distance; Danzig won an unanimous decision. At the time fights for the title were only three rounds.

    He was able to end his second title defense fight more quickly with a knockout of Orlando Ruiz in the first round.

    Danzig’s third match defending his belt again lasted all three rounds, but he unanimously defeated Buddy Clinton.

    His next title defense would be against John Mahlow where Danzig yet again picked up an unanimous decision.

    Mac Danzig lost his title at King of the Cage: Hard Knocks on January 19, 2007. He was finally on the wrong side of the judges as he dropped a split decision to Clay French. Danzig would, however, go on to win Ultimate Fighter Six later that year.

11. Chuck Liddell

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    Title: UFC Light Heavyweight Champion

    Successful Defenses: Four

    Wins/Losses while champion: 4-1

    Why he ranks 11th: Chuck Liddell’s reign is similar to Mac Danzig’s, but Liddell was undoubtedly facing a higher level of competition.

     

    Details of reign

    Chuck Liddell became Light Heavyweight Champion at UFC 52 on April 16, 2005. He had previously lost an interim title fight to champion Randy Couture. This was Couture’s first defense of the title (though  his second reign over it.) Liddell knocked out Couture in the first round to take the belt.

    Liddell again looked for revenge with his first defense at UFC 54 where he faced Jeremy Horn, one of two fighters besides Couture that had previously beaten him. Liddell was successful when Horn declared himself unable to continue during the fight.

    A third and final fight between Liddell and Randy Couture was Liddell’s second defense and took place at UFC 57. Liddell again knocked Couture out and settled the rivalry once and for all.

    UFC 62 saw Liddell’s next successful defense, a first round knockout of Renato Sobral.

    Liddell’s fourth title defense was at UFC 66 and against Tito Ortiz. Liddell won with yet another knockout victory.

    At UFC 71 on May 26, 2007 Chuck Liddell faced the final opponent of the three that had previously beaten him: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Liddell lost his title when he was knocked out in the first round.

10. Wanderlei Silva

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Title: Pride Middleweight Champion

    Successful Defenses: Four

    Wins/Losses while champion: 14-4-1

    Why he ranks 10th: Wanderlei Silva ranks above Chuck Liddell because Silva also won a Middleweight Grand Prix while he was champion.

     

    Details of reign

    Wanderlei Silva faced Kazushi Sakuraba for the Pride Middleweight Championship at Pride 17 on November 3, 2001. Pride Fighting Championship did not previously have this title and the winner would be the first person to hold the belt. Note that Pride’s Middleweight-class was equivalent to the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division. After the first round, which lasted ten minutes under Pride rules, the doctor examined Sakuraba and decided to end the fight. Silva became the inaugural Pride Middleweight Champion.

    Silva’s next bout was at Pride 18, but was a non-title fight. He faced Alexander Otsuka and again won when he injured his opponent enough that the doctor stopped the fight in the third round.

    He made his first official title defense at Pride 19 against Kiyoshi Tamura. Silva picked kept his belt with a knockout punch.

    Silva fought again on the next event, Pride 20, against Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. The bout was not for the title, but was under special rules that stipulated it would be five rounds and if at the end there was no winner it would automatically be a draw. It did indeed go all five rounds and no winner was declared.

    He had another non-title fight at Pride Shockwave where he knocked out Tatsuya Iwasaki just over one minute into the fight.

    The second official title defense was at Pride 23 against Hiromitsu Kanehara. The fight was stopped in the first round when Kanehara was considered too injured to keep fighting.

    Wanderlei Silva was next in Pride’s 2003 Middleweight Grand Prix tournament. In the opening round at Pride Total Elimination 2003, he had a rematch with the man he beat to get his belt: Kazushi Sakuraba. Silva finished him this time with a knockout punch.

    The semifinal fight was at Pride Final Conflict 2003 and after going all fifteen minutes Silva got a unanimous victory over Hidehiko Yoshida.

    The final fight was on the same night and against Quinton Jackson. Silva won the tournament when he used vicious knees to finish off Jackson.

    Silva would fight yet another non-title match at Pride Bushido Two and knocked out Ikuhisa Minowa in just over a minute.

    His next match was at Pride Final Conflict 2004 and was again not for his belt. Nonetheless with some brutal stomps his opponent Yuki Kondo was knocked out in the first round.

    Disregarding draws and no contests, Silva had won 15 fights in a row when he made his third official title defense at Pride 28. In a rematch from his grand prix final, Silva faced Quinton Jackson and yet again got a knockout win using his knees.

    At Pride Shockwave 2004 his winning streak came to an end, but the fight was not for his title. After three rounds Silva lost a split decision to Mark Hunt.

    Silva would next attempt to repeat his tournament victory in Pride’s next Middleweight Grand Prix. At Pride Total Elimination 2005 he fought in the opening round against a fighter he had defeated in the semifinals of the previous tournament: Hidehiko Yoshida. Silva won a split decision this time to move on.

    His next fight was a quarterfinal matchup at Pride Total Elimination 2005 as this was a larger tournament than the one before. Silva knocked out Kazahiro Nakamura to advance.

    In the semifinal fight at Pride Final Conflict 2005 Silva lost an unanimous decision to Ricardo Arona and was knocked out of the tournament. The tournament fights were not for the title, however.

    Arona did not win the final fight of the tournament, but his victory over Silva did earn him a title shot. Silva’s fourth official title defense was at Pride Shockwave 2005 and their rematch again went the distance. This time it was a split decision and Silva was declared the winner.

    Silva was next given a slot in an Openweight Grand Prix quarterfinal matchup at Pride Critical Countdown Absolute. He earned a knockout victory over Kazuyuki Fajita to go to the semifinals.

    His semifinal fight was a rematch with Mirko Cro Cop, who he had fought to a draw years ago. Silva ended up on the wrong side of a highlight-reel knockout head kick and was eliminated.

    Silva lost his title at Pride 33 on February 24, 2007. Dan Henderson rocked Silva with a knockout punch to take the belt.

9. Tony Lopez

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    Title: KOTC Light Heavyweight Champion

    Successful Defenses: Four

    Wins/Losses while champion: 8-2

    Why he ranks ninth: Tony Lopez ranks above Wanderlei Silva because Lopez was actually reigning over titles in two different weight classes at the time.

     

    Details of reign

    Tony Lopez had just won the KOTC Heavyweight Championship when he was offered a shot at the vacant Light Heavyweight Championship at King of the Cage: Misconduct on October 16, 2008. Lopez submitted Fernando Gonzalez to pick up his second belt.

    He would then remain at light heavyweight and defend that title against Keith Berry. He was successful with a knockout victory.

    He then fought Fernando Gonzalez in a rematch for the belt. The fight went all the way into the fifth round this time before Lopez locked in a rear-naked choke to win.

    Lopez defended the Light Heavyweight Championship for his third time against Chad Herrick. He again fought into the fifth round where this time he landed a knockout head kick to keep his title.

    He would next go overseas to South Korea to fight for M-1 Global. He submitted Victor Nemkov with a rear-naked choke.

    Returning to KOTC for his fourth Light Heavyweight title defense and fifth fight that year, Lopez faced Dave Cryer. The fight went all five rounds and Lopez was awarded an unanimous decision.

    Lopez then decided to go up in weight to defend his Heavyweight Championship as well. He was unable to finish Joey Beltran, but won an unanimous decision.

    Lopez then defended the Heavyweight title for a second time. Amazingly, this was his seventh fight and sixth title defense of 2009. He fought Tyler East and was declared the winner in a split decision.

    The fight with East was close enough that there was an immediate rematch early last year with the Heavyweight belt again on the line. Lopez made sure to finish his opponent this time with a triangle-choke in the first round.

    Lopez would lose the Heavyweight title during his fourth attempt to defend the belt. He dropped an unanimous decision to Tony Johnson.

    At King of the Cage: Honor on May 14, 2010, Lopez then immediately lost his Light Heavyweight Championship as well. He again fought for all five rounds, but a split decision victory was handed to his opponent, and new champion, Mike Kyle. Lopez still fights for King of the Cage, but hasn’t had another title bout yet.

8. Frank Shamrock

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    Title: UFC Light Heavyweight Champion

    Successful Defenses: Four

    Wins/Losses while champion: 4-0-1

    Why he ranks eighth: Frank Shamrock ranks above Tony Lopez because Shamrock was not defeated in a title defense, but simply retired

     

    Details of reign

    The UFC first created the Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC Ultimate Japan (also known as UFC 15.5) on December 21, 1997. Frank Shamrock easily became the first person to hold the belt with an armbar win over Kevin Jackson 16 seconds into the match.

    Frank Shamrock’s first title defense fight at UFC 16 wouldn’t last much longer; just 22 seconds into the bout a slam finished off Igor Zinoviev.

    His second defense of the belt was at UFC 17 against Jeremy Horn and the fight lasted much longer. In a time before unified rules, the match consisted of a single round that went on for over 16 minutes before Shamrock was finally able to submit Horn.

    UFC Ultimate Brazil, or 17.5, was Shamrock’s third defense as champion. He fought John Lober, who called it quits seven minutes into the fight.

    Shamrock then went to Japan for a fight with the RINGS promotion. He fought Kiyoshi Tamura for a single 20-minute round and then the fight was declared a draw.

    Shamrock returned at UFC 22 on September 24, 1999 for his final title defense. His opponent Tito Ortiz ended up tapping out and Shamrock retained the title. Not long after he announced his retirement and relinquished the title.

    His retirement would only last one year and Shamrock went on to win WEC and Strikeforce Championships before again retiring last year.

7. Tito Ortiz

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Title: UFC Light Heavyweight Champion

    Successful Defenses: Five

    Wins/Losses while champion: 5-1

    Why he ranks seventh: Tito Ortiz has more successful defenses than Frank Shamrock.

     

    Details of reign

    After Frank Shamrock’s retirement the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship was left vacant, and a new champion would be crowned at UFC 25 on April 14, 2000. Tito Ortiz and Wanderlei Silva fought for the title, with Ortiz getting a unanimous decision win after five rounds.

    Ortiz made his first defense at UFC 29 where he submitted Yuki Kondo in the first round.

    Ortiz made his second defense against Evan Tanner at UFC 30. Just 32 seconds into the fight Ortiz slammed Tanner and knocked him out.

    At UFC 32 Ortiz would again defend his title with a first round victory. This time he used his ground-and-pound skills to finish off Elvis Sinosic.

    A fourth title defense then followed at UFC 33. Ortiz did not finish his opponent, Vladimir Matyushenko, but did win the unanimous decision.

    Tito Ortiz then fought Ken Shamrock for the first time at UFC 40. Ken Shamrock’s corner threw in the towel after three rounds to give Ortiz his fifth successful title defense.

    Ortiz would lose his title at UFC 44 on September 26, 2003. After five rounds of fighting, Randy Couture was given the unanimous decision victory and became champion.

6. Matt Hughes

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    Title: UFC Welterweight Champion

    Successful Defenses: Five

    Wins/Losses while champion: 5-1

    Why he ranks sixth: Matt Hughes ranks above Tito Ortiz because Hughes would later recapture his championship, which Ortiz has never done.

     

    Details of reign

    Matt Hughes fought in what would be Carlos Newton’s first title defense at UFC 34 on November 2, 2001. In a notorious finish, while about to be submitted by a tight guillotine choke, Hughes slammed Newton to the mat and knocked the champion out to win the title.

    Hughes defended his new title at UFC 36, finishing off Hayato Sakurai with strikes.

    Carlos Newton was given a rematch with Hughes at UFC 38. Hughes picked up a more decisive knockout victory over Newton this time.

    At UFC 40 Hughes had his third title defense against Gil Castillo. After just one round, the doctor stopped the fight because of too much damage to Castillo.

    The fourth successful title defense for Hughes took place at UFC 42. Hughes battled with Sean Sherk for five rounds before being declared the winner in an unanimous decision.

    For his fifth defense Hughes faced Frank Trigg at UFC 45. Hughes locked in a rear-naked choke in the first round to keep the belt.

    Hughes lost his title at UFC 46 on January 31, 2004. B.J. Penn got Hughes in a rear-naked choke of his own in the first round and finished the champion to take the title.

5. Urijah Faber...twice

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Title: KOTC Bantamweight Champion/WEC Featherweight Champion

    Successful Defenses: Five/Five

    Wins/Losses while champion: 9-1/10-1

    Why he ranks fifth: Urijah Faber ranks above Matt Hughes because Faber has had as many successful defenses, but with two different titles.

     

    Details of reigns

    The KOTC Bantamweight Championship was vacant when Urijah Faber and Eben Kaneshiro fought for the title at KOTC 44 on November 14, 2004. Kaneshiro tapped out while being pummeled with strikes and Faber won the belt. Note that the KOTC bantamweight division is the equivalent weight-class to the WEC/UFC featherweight division.

    Faber next fought for California-based promotion Gladiator Challenge, where he was the Lightweight Champion at the time. He submitted David Granados in the first round.

    He returned to KOTC to defend his bantamweight title against Hiroyuki Abe. The fight was stopped when Abe received too bad of a cut and Faber remained champion.

    Faber again returned to Gladiator Challenge where he was knocked out by Tyson Griffin and lost his lightweight championship.

    He successfully defended his bantamweight KOTC title for a second time by submitting Shawn Bias a little over one minute into the opening round.

    Faber’s next fight was at another Gladiator Challenge event, but was still an official defense of his KOTC title. Faber kept his title in a fight with Charles Bennett when he applied a rear-naked choke in the first round to get the submission victory.

    He next fought for Canadian organization TKO Major League MMA. His opponent Ivan Menjivar illegally kicked him while he was on the ground and was disqualified.

    Faber was next given a chance to be Cole Escovedo’s second challenger for the World Extreme Cagefighting Featherweight Championship at WEC 19. After two rounds, Escovedo could not continue and Faber became the new champion.

    He returned to KOTC for his fourth title defense. He submitted Charlie Valencia with a rear-naked choke in the first round.

    Faber returned yet again to Gladiator Challenge for a chance to be their Bantamweight Champion. He won the belt by knocking out Naoya Uematsu, but would never return to defend that title.

    His fifth fight within one year was at a local show called Full Contact Promotions. He defeated Enoch Wilson when the doctor called a stop to the fight.

    Faber defended his KOTC Bantamweight Championship for the final time at King of the Cage: All Stars on October 28, 2006. The match was against Bibiano Fernandes and Faber retained his belt when the fight was stopped after just four minutes. He then decided to fight full-time for the WEC, and had to vacate the title.

    Faber made his first WEC Featherweight Championship defense at WEC 25. His opponent Joe Pearson was finished off with strikes in the first round.

    His second defense of the title was at WEC 26 against Dominick Cruz. Faber received another first round finish, this time by submission.

    Faber would continue this trend at WEC 28. A rear-naked choke in the opening round finished off challenger Chance Farrar.

    His fourth title defense would be against Jeff Curran at WEC 31. Curran would make it to the second round, but ultimately be submitted by the champion.

    Faber next defended his title against Jens Pulver at WEC 34. In a fight of the night performance, the two fighters battled for five rounds before Faber was given an unanimous decision victory.

    Urijah Faber lost his Featherweight Championship at WEC 36 on November 5, 2008. Mike Brown knocked out Faber in the first round to win the title.

     

    Faber has been unable to recapture the belt and now fights in the UFC bantamweight division.

4. Georges St. Pierre

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    Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

    Title: UFC Welterweight Champion

    Successful Defenses: Five

    Wins/Losses while champion: 5-0

    Why he ranks fourth: Georges St. Pierre ranks above Urijah Faber because St. Pierre’s reign is still ongoing.

     

    Details of reign

    Georges St. Pierre had previously been UFC Welterweight Champion when in his first title defense he was defeated by Matt Serra. St. Pierre was then granted a rematch as Serra’s first defense at UFC 83 on April 19, 2008. He used knee strikes to finish off Serra and once again became champion.

    St. Pierre’s first successful title defense was Jon Fitch at UFC 87. The two fighters fought for five rounds and the match was awarded fight of the night honors; St. Pierre got an unanimous decision win.

    At UFC 94 St. Pierre faced B.J. Penn in an unprecedented match between two UFC champions. Penn was the Lightweight Champion and moved up a division to take St. Pierre’s title as well. After four rounds Penn could not continue, however, and St. Pierre remained Welterweight Champion.

    St. Pierre defended his belt for a third time on the historic UFC 100 card, defeating Thiago Alves in an unanimous decision.

    At UFC 111 St. Pierre faced Dan Hardy, but again was able to pick up an unanimous decision to retain his title.

    St. Pierre’s most recent defense was against Josh Koscheck at UFC 124. The fight was awarded fight of the night as St. Pierre battered Koscheck for five rounds for another unanimous decision win.

    Georges St. Pierre remains the UFC Welterweight Champion and next faces Jake Shields at UFC 129 on April 30.

3. Alexandre Nogueira

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    Title: Shooto Lightweight Champion

    Successful Defenses: Six

    Wins/Losses while champion: 9-3-2

    Why he ranks third: Alexandre Nogueira has more successful title defenses than George St. Pierre.

     

    Details of reign

    Noboru Asahi made his third title defense against Alexandre Franca Nogueira at Shooto: Renaxis Four on September 5, 1999. Nogueira became the new Shooto Lightweight Champion by submitting Asahi. Note that Shooto’s lightweight division roughly corresponds to what other organizations such as the UFC refer to as the featherweight division.

    Nogueira then had a match for Shooto spin-off Vale Tudo Japan, where he fought Uchu Tatsumi to a draw.

    He returned to Shooto for his next figh,t but it was not for his title. He beat Mamoru Okochi by unanimous decision.

    Nogueira’s first official title defense was a rematch against Uchu Tatsumi, the fighter who he had received a draw against. This time he made sure to submit Tatsumi in the first round.

    He next had another non-title bout for Shooto, this time against Stephen Palling. Nogueira picked up another submission win.

    The first loss of Nogueira’s career came in his next fight for Shooto, but which was again not for his title. Tetsuo Katsuta was given a majority decision victory over Nogueira.

    Katsuta was then given a shot at Nogueira’s title in an immediate rematch. This time Nogueira was the undisputed winner as he submitted Tatsuta to keep the belt.

    Nogueira defended his belt again in his next fight, this time against Katsuya Toida. Nogueira picked up an unanimous decision victory after three rounds—championship fights in Shooto are not longer than regular matchups.

    Fortunately for Nogueira his next fight for Shooto was not a championship match. He was knocked out in the first round by Hiroyuki Abe.

    Hiroyuki Abe was then given a shot at Nogueira’s title. This time Nogueira turned the tables by sinking in a rear-naked choke in the first round to successfully defend his belt for the fourth time.

    His fifth title defense was a rematch with Stephen Palling, whom he had defeated before in a non-title match. This time the two fighters fought to a draw, with Nogueira remaining champion.

    Nogueira followed this with another non-title match for Shooto, finishing Rumina Sato with a guillotine choke in just 41 seconds.

    He got another first round finish by guillotine in his next fight, a non-title bout for Shooto against Hideki Kadowaki.

    Nogueira’s final defense of his Shooto Lightweight Championship came at Shooto 2005: 3/11 in Korakuen Hall on March 11, 2005. He beat Joao Roque by unanimous decision.

    Nogueira technically had one more fight while champion, but not for his title. He fought Hideo Tokoro later that year in K-1 and was knocked out. Nogueira then received an injury that prevented him from defending his Shooto title within a reasonable amount of time, and he was stripped of the title.

2. Joey Villasenor

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    Title: KOTC Middleweight Champion

    Successful Defenses: Seven

    Wins/Losses while champion: 8-1

    Why he ranks second:  Joey Villasenor has more successful title defenses than Alexandre Nogueira.

     

    Details of reign

    The King of the Cage Middleweight Championship was vacant when Joey Villasenor and Brian Foster fought for the belt at KOTC 41 on September 24, 2004. Villasenor finished Foster with a rear-naked choke in the first round to become champion.

    Villasenor’s first title defense was against Jorge Ortiz, who submitted due to strikes in the first round.

    Villasenor again retained his title with a first round victory in his next fight, this time knocking out Brendan Seguin.

    He continued his impressive run with a defense against Michael Gonzalez. The champion submitted Gonzalez just over one minute into the match.

    The fourth title defense for Villasenor was against Damien Riccio, who he also knocked out in the first round.

    For his fifth title defense in a row, Villasenor faced Jorge Santiago. This time the fight would go the distanc,e but the champion retained his belt with an unanimous decision—at the time fights for the title were still only three rounds.

    Kyacey Uscola was the next fighter to try to take away the belt, but Villasenor finished off yet another challenger with strikes.

    Villasenor now began to be courted by Japanese promotions. His next fight was for Deep, where he defeated Yuya Shirai by unanimous decision.

    He was next given a spot in Pride’s Welterweight Grand Prix. Note that Pride’s welterweight division was equivalent to what other organizations like KOTC and UFC call the middleweight division. Villasenor fought in the opening round at Pride Bushido Survival 2006 against Ryo Chonan, but lost a split decision.

    Joey Villasenor’s final defense of his KOTC Middleweight Championship was at King of the Cage: Civil War on July 29, 2006. He defeated John Cronk by knockout in the first round. Villasenor then signed a permanent contract with Pride and was stripped of his KOTC title.

1. Anderson Silva

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    Title: UFC Middleweight Champion

    Successful Defenses: Eight

    Wins/Losses while champion: 11-0

    Why he ranks first:  Anderson Silva has more successful title defenses in a major MMA promotion than any other fighter in history.

     

    Details of reign

    UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin had two successful title defenses before he fought Anderson Silva at UFC 64 on October 14, 2006. Silva put on a Muay Thai clinic against Franklin and knocked him out in the first round to become the new champion.

    Silva’s next fight was at UFC 67 but was not for the title because challenger Travis Lutter failed to make weight. Lutter ended up tapping out to the champion.

    Silva’s first official title defense was against Nate Marquardt at UFC 73. Marquardt was knocked out in the first round.

    His second title defense was a rematch with Rich Franklin at UFC 77. Franklin made it to the second round this time, but ultimately was knocked out yet again.

    At UFC 82 Silva faced Dan Henderson, who was coming out of the now-defunct Pride as their last Welterweight Champion. Note that Pride’s welterweight division was equivalent to the UFC’s middleweight. The bout earned fight of the night as Silva ended up submitting Henderson to keep the belt.

    Silva then decided to try a fight at light heavyweight at UFC Fight Night 14 against James Irvin; Silva knocked Irvin out one minute into the match.

    UFC 90 saw Silva defend his belt for the fourth time. Challenger Patrick Cote was unable to continue after his knee was injured and Silva remained champion.

    At UFC 97 Silva broke the record for most wins in the UFC, a record he continues to extend. He went all five rounds for the first time, beating Thales Leites by unanimous decision.

    Silva again fought at light heavyweight at UFC 101, this time knocking out Forrest Griffin in the first round.

    At UFC 112 Silva broke the record for most consecutive UFC title defenses with his sixth. He won a unanimous decision over Demian Maia.

    Silva continued to extend that record at UFC 117 where he fought Chael Sonnen. In a fight of the night performance, Silva caught Sonnen in a triangle armbar in the fifth round to remain champion.

    Most recently Silva defended his title for an eighth time against Vitor Belfort at UFC 126 on February 5. Belfort was knocked out in the first round.

    Anderson Silva remains the UFC Middleweight Champion. Yushin Okami is currently the No. 1 contender for that title, but if Georges St. Pierre wins his next fight the two champions will likely face each other instead.

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