The Rich History of UFC Heavyweight GREATS!

When a fighter becomes a champion in the UFC heavyweight division, he also earns the title of being the “Baddest man on the Planet”. The division where giants collide, their punch alone could erupt crowds. A division where it only takes one punch to end the fight.

Stipe Miocic will go down in history as the UFC’s greatest heavyweight champion. Why? Well for starters, he broke the record for most consecutive defense and is also a two-time champion. He has been an underdog most of his fights but always finds a way to get his hands raised.

May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Stipe Miocic (blue) reacts after defeating Fabricio Werdum (not pictured) during UFC 198 Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

But some would argue that there are still more UFC heavyweight greats that paved the way for fighters like Miocic, Ngannou and other fighters.

In this article, it will only be heavyweight champions that had great success in the UFC. One could argue that Fedor is the greatest heavyweight of all-time but unfortunately never had the opportunity to fight in the promotion during his prime. Fans always longed for Fedor vs Couture and even Fedor vs Lesnar.

The UFC had a lot of heavyweight champions, it started with Mark Coleman as the first champion. He is among the pioneer of the sport. He lost his belt to Maurice Smith.

Randy Couture may be considered one of the best fighters pound for pound. He was among the first to win UFC belts at two different divisions and was the oldest heavyweight champion. He was a a three time heavyweight champion but he was small for the division. He simply used his Greco-Roman wrestling to out grapple bigger guys.

Joe Rogan called Couture his “Hero” when he had an upset win against Tim Sylvia to win the heavyweight belt at 43 years old. He has had great wins over Chuck Liddell, Vitor Belfort and even Tito Ortiz. He is without a doubt among the best pound for pound.

There are still a lot of great fighters during Couture’s era, fighters like Kevin Randleman(RIP) who had an upset win against Cro Cop. Bas Rutten is one of the rare fighters that finished their career on top. Josh Barnett was actually an elite heavyweight  but most of his success were in other promotions.

One of the fighters that had great potential was Frank Mir, prior to his bike accident he was the best heavyweight. He was a heavyweight that had elite submissions. In just his 9th career fight he submitted Tim Sylvia but after his bike accident he was just never the same and a lot of upcoming talents were on a rise when he returned. Who could forget Sylvia vs Arlovski rivalry as well, it was very entertaining in its own right.

Frank Mir also had great rivalry with the most famous heavyweight champion which is Brock Lesnar. Given Lesnar’s short UFC career, he achieved a lot, winning the heavyweight belt and defended it twice.

Lesnar lost his title to one of the best heavyweights if we talk about prime. Cain Velasquez was just a different breed of heavyweight, he had it all, he could wrestle and strike. His greatest weapon would be his cardio, he does not slow down in the later rounds, where most heavyweights given their size usually slow down.

He initially lost his belt the first time against JDS via brutal overhand but he eventually avenged his loss by beating him twice.JDS was never the same after going to war with Velasquez twice. Dos Santos is also one of the best pure boxers in the heavyweights when he was on the rise.

Without injury, Velasquez may be the greatest heavyweight of all time but he just had too much injuries that hindered his career. He lost his belt to Werdum which ironically because he was gassed since they fought at Mexico where the altitude is higher.

Brazil’s Fabricio Werdum lands a punch to United States’ Cain Velasquez during a heavyweight mixed martial arts title bout at UFC 188 in Mexico City, Saturday, June 13, 2015. Werdum won the fight by submission. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)

Werdum then tried to defend his belt Miocic but got caught with a counter punch. It was the start of Miocic’s greatest heavyweight run. He defend his belt among elites as well, fighters like Overeem, JDS, and Ngannou. After his win against Ngannou, he broke the record for most consecutive title defenses in the division.

Jason da Silva, USA TODAY Sports

Cormier then attempted to fight for the heavyweight crown as he was a natural heavyweight during his early fights. He chose to move down to avoid fighting his teammate Cain Velasquez. Cormier was undefeated at heavyweight during that time. Cormier landed a sneaky punch in the clinch that knocked Miocic out.

Miocic then waited for a while and only wanted a title shot for his next fight and in his defense he deserved it. Cormier and Miocic had a trilogy where Miocic got the better for the last two fights. It cemented Miocic as the greatest heavyweight champion in UFC history.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – AUGUST 15: (R-L) Stipe Miocic punches Daniel Cormier in their UFC heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 252 event at UFC APEX on August 15, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

It cemented Miocic as the greatest heavyweight champion in UFC history. He is scheduled to defend it against Francis Nganou and if he wins he will likely face Jon Jones. The greatest heavyweight vs the greatest light-heavyweight is a fight for the ages.

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