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The History of the UFC Heavyweight Title

February 7th 1997 UFC 12: Mark Coleman vs. Dan Severn

During UFC’s early years, their pay-per-views held actual tournaments. Mark Coleman made his UFC debut at UFC 10. He won both UFC tournaments 10 and 11, where he was declared UFC Champion. Before this, the UFC had bouts between fighters of vastly different weights, and they were getting a lot of slack for it. Since Mark Coleman was made the first UFC Champion, he was put in the first Heavyweight Title match against Dan Severn. Even though he was considered the “UFC Champion” it was a great upset when Coleman beat Severn, a legend in UFC, to win the first Heavyweight Title. Winner: Mark Coleman

July 27th 1997 UFC 14: Maurice Smith vs. Mark Coleman

Unfortunately for Mark Coleman, he would not hold the Heavyweight Title for very long. His first title defense was against a kickboxer by the name of Maurice Smith. The match did not finish in the regulated time, and back then, they went into overtime. Eventually Coleman had zero stamina left and Smith took the UFC Heavyweight Title from Coleman, by decision after a painfully long twenty-one minute match. Winner: Maurice Smith

December 21st UFC Japan: Randy Couture vs. Maurice Smith

In May of 1997, Randy Couture made his debut into the UFC and won a four-man tournament. Couture was then given the next Heavyweight Title match against Maurice Smith. He went on to win the match over Smith by decision and was crowned the new UFC Heavyweight Champion. But after the match, Couture got into a contract dispute with UFC and was stripped of the title. Randy Couture left UFC briefly in early 1998. Winner: Randy Couture

May 7th 1999 UFC 20: Bas Rutten vs. Kevin Randleman

After Randy Couture was stripped of the Heavyweight Title, Bas Rutten moved up a weight class to fight Kevin Randleman for the vacated title. The match went into overtime, but Rutten came out on top by decision. Eventually, Rutten decided to move back down to middleweight and he had the Heavyweight Title stripped. Again the title was left vacated. Winner: Bas Rutten

November 19th 1999 UFC 23: Kevin Randleman vs. Pete Williams

At UFC 23, Kevin Randleman was given a second shot at the Heavyweight Title against Pete Williams. This time he was able to win the title after he defeated Williams by unanimous decision. Winner: Kevin Randleman

November 17th 2000 UFC 28: Randy Couture vs. Kevin Randleman

Randy Couture made his comeback to the UFC in 2000. Since he never officially lost the Heavyweight Title when he left, Couture was given a shot against Kevin Randleman. Couture defeated Randleman via TKO and went on to become the first two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion. Winner: Randy Couture

March 22nd 2002 UFC 36: Josh Barnett vs. Randy Couture

In 2002, the twenty-five year old youngster Josh Barnett, got the next shot at the title. Barnett’s win over Randy Couture made him the youngest UFC Heavyweight Champion to that date. Unfortunately Barnett tested positive for anabolic steroids and the had the title stripped. Winner: Josh Barnett

September 27th 2002 UFC 39: Ricco Rodriguez vs. Randy Couture

After a long string of wins, Ricco Rodriguez was given a title shot, along with Randy Couture who hoped to win it back after his loss against Barnett. Couture started out strong early in the match, but Rodriguez used his large size to eventually overpower Couture via submission and went on to win the Heavyweight Title. Winner: Ricco Rodriguez

February 28th UFC 41: Tim Sylvia vs. Ricco Rodriguez

Tim Sylvia smashed his way onto the MMA scene by knocking out 10 of his first 13 opponents. Sylvia quickly earned a shot at the Heavyweight Title, where he won the bout against Ricco Rodriguez via KO. But once again, the Heavyweight Champ was stripped of the title, when Sylvia tested positive for anabolic steroids, just as Josh Barnett had. Winner: Tim Sylvia

June 19th 2004 UFC 48: Frank Mir vs. Tim Sylvia

Although stripped of his title, Tim Sylvia was given a shot to win it back at UFC 48. But unfortunately for Sylvia, Frank Mir had other plans. Just fifty seconds into the match, Mir put Sylvia into an armbar and broke his right forearm, affectively winning him the Heavyweight Title. It was another short-lived reign though. Mid September of 2004, Mir was riding his motorcycle when a car hit him. He broke his femur and would be unable to fight. Winner: Frank Mir

February 5th 2005 UFC 51: Andrei Arlovski vs. Tim Sylvia

After Frank Mir’s motorcycle accident, the UFC decided to create an interim Heavyweight Title between the top two heavyweight contenders. The two fighters chosen were Andrei Arlovski and former champ Tim Sylvia. Tim Sylvia had been doing well in his other fights, Andrei Arlovski proved to be the better fighter when he forced Sylvia to tap out via ankle lock. Winner: Andrei Arlovski

April 15th 2oo6 UFC 61: Tim Slyvia vs. Andrei Arlovski

Unfortunately Frank Mir was unable to recover from his motorcycle accident, so Andrei Arlovski was recognized as the Heavyweight Champ. Tim Sylvia got a second chance to win the Heavyweight Title ten events later. This time Sylvia landed a hard punch and Arlovski went down, like so many of Sylvia’s opponents  had done before. Sylvia then became the second two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion. Winner: Tim Sylvia

March 3rd 2007 UFC 68: Randy Couture vs. Tim Sylvia

For this fight Randy Couture came out of retirement to fight Tim Sylvia. Both fighters were the only two-time Heavyweight Champs. Even though everyone was rooting for Couture, it was not surprise when the forty-something year old fighter not only beat Sylvia, but completely dominated him. Couture then became UFC Heavyweight Champion for a third time. Winner: Randy Couture

February 2nd 2008: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Tim Sylvia

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira made history in his fight against Tim Sylvia. He became the first fighter ever to become champion in both the UFC and PRIDE heavyweight divisions. It seemed as if Sylvia would take the belt again, but Nogueira took him down via a guillotine choke in the early 3rd round.

Winner: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

November 15th 2008 UFC 91: Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture

Randy Couture returned to the UFC once again with a 3-fight deal. His first fight was against newcomer Brock Lesnar, who had lost his debut fight to Frank Mir. Lesnar went on to take Couture’s Heavyweight Title in the second round via TKO.

Winner: Brock Lesnar

December 27th 2008 UFC 92: Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

Frank Mir had since recovered from his motorcycle accident and eventually worked his way back up to fight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the Interim Heavyweight Championship. The winner of this fight would take on Brock Lesnar at UFC 100 for the Heavyweight Title. Mir beat Nogueira in the second round via TKO. Winner: Frank Mir

July 11th 2009 UFC 100: Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir

The long awaited match between Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar finally came about after having been postponed from UFC 98. After much trash talking from Mir, he unfortunately loss the bout when Lesnar completely dominated him. Lesnar won in early round 2 via TKO and once became the UFC Undisputed Heavyweight Champion. Winner: Brock Lesnar

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