5 Fighters That Won a 2nd Championship Multiple Years After Their First Title Win

5 Fighters That Won a 2nd Championship Multiple Years After Their First Title Win

Liam Mooney|
May 03, 2023|

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is widely regarded as the world's premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organization. As such, winning a UFC title is one of the most coveted achievements in the sport, and it is an accomplishment that only a select few fighters have been able to attain. The path to UFC glory is long and grueling, requiring a unique combination of skill, dedication, and mental fortitude. However, winning a UFC title twice is an even rarer and more impressive accomplishment that solidifies a fighter's status as one of the best in the sport's history.

Randy Couture

Photo Credits to: MMAWeekly.com
Photo Credits to: MMAWeekly.com

Randy Couture is one of the most influential fighters ever to grace the UFC and boasts a myriad of impressive records, which ultimately saw him become the fourth-ever individual inducted into the UFC Hall Of Fame. Couture was part of the trio that established Team Quest with Matt Lindland and Dan Henderson before moving to Las Vegas in 2005 and opening his own successful chain of gyms under the name Xtreme Couture.

Couture was an Olympic wrestling alternative who successfully implemented his wrestling into his successful fighting career, winning multiple titles and being the first of only eight UFC fighters to hold a title over two different weight classes. Couture has competed in a record 16 title fights and is tied for the most UFC Heavyweight title wins, with 6, alongside legend and former champion Stipe Miocic.

After winning the UFC 13 Heavyweight tournament, in 1997, Couture would go on to capture the Heavyweight title defeating Maurice Smith in Japan later that year. However, Couture's stint in Japan would not finish here after contract complications with the UFC. He would vacate the title and fight under various promotions in Japan. He would return to the UFC in 2000, facing reigning champion Kevin Randleman, and recapture the Heavyweight title via third-round TKO. Recapturing the UFC Heavyweight title three years after vacating his first. Couture would go on to successfully defend this title twice, against notable opponent Pedro Rizzo. Unfortunately, after this, Coutrue would suffer back-to-back defeats to Josh Barnett and Ricco Rodriguez, setting him up for a drop-down in weight class and opening up one of the most memorable trilogies with Light Heavyweight legend Chuck Liddel.

In his first fight in his new weight class, 39-year-old Couture defeated long-time number-one contender Chuck Liddel for the UFC Light Heavyweight interim title, becoming the first-ever fighter to hold a championship in multiple weight classes. Coture would go on to further cement his legacy with a victory over Tito Ortiz the following year, becoming the undisputed champion at an impressive 40 years old.

Couture would then later lose and recapture the title to former opponent Victor Belfort before losing the title again in the first-ever season of The Ultimate Fighter against Chuck Liddell. This, however, would not be the end of Couture's title fights. He would return to Heavyweight one year later, in 2007, and defeat Tim Sylvia. Then, he would further retain the title one more time against Gabriel Gonzaga before losing the title to Brock Lesnar at UFC 91. This would mark the end of Couture's impressive title fights, but he would further go on to fight five more times in the next three years before retiring in 2011.

So not only did Couture recapture the title multiple times, spanning over one of the most impressive careers ever in the UFC. But after his first title win in 1997, he won his second three years later in 2000. Still, he continued to dominate and successfully defended the Heavyweight title he won back ten years after his initial victory.

Marking an end to his career, it's safe to say that with wins over opponents like James Toney, Chick Liddell, Mark Coleman, Tito Ortiz, Kevin Randleman, Tim Slyvia, Victor Belfort, and Pedro Rizzo. With a record of 19-11 and an estimated net worth of 7 million dollars. The Hall of Famer has had one of the most notable and remarkable UFC careers.

Amanda Nunes

Credits to: Josh Hedges/Getty Images
Credits to: Josh Hedges/Getty Images

Amanda Nunes is not only considered one of the greatest female fighters in UFC history but one of the pound-for-pound greatest fighters ever. And her accomplishments in the octagon speak for themselves. Nunes made history in 2016 when she defeated Miesha Tate to become the UFC women's Bantamweight champion. Nunes defended her Bantamweight title five times before losing the title to Julianna Pena in 2021. She has since recaptured the title after a dominating performance in a rematch in the following year, in 2022.

Two years after her victory over Tate in 2018, Nunes set her sights on a new challenge: winning the UFC women's Featherweight title. Despite being considered an underdog against the then-champion, Cris Cyborg, Nunes pulled off a spectacular upset, knocking out Cyborg in just 51 seconds and becoming the first woman in UFC history to hold two titles simultaneously. When they met, Cyborg hadn't lost a fight since 2005. Nunes is an exceptional athlete among UFC champions, as she has been the only double champion to defend her titles while still holding them both. We have yet to see that kind of dominance in any of the men's divisions.

In her rise to the top of women's MMA, Nunes has defeated names such as Chris Cyborg, Raquel Pennington, Valentina Shevchenko, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Holly Holm, and Julianna Pena along the way.

BJ Penn

Photo Credts to: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com.
Photo Credts to: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com.

Prior to his MMA career, BJ Penn was the first non-Brazilian to win the World Ju Jitsu Championship at blackbelt level, and this elite level of grappling was evident throughout his career. During his MMA career, Penn fought in the Featherweight, Lightweight, Welterweight, Middleweight, and Heavyweight/Open-weight divisions in the UFC and K-1 promotions. Due to his willingness to fight and incredibly diverse skillset, Penn has been highly regarded as one of the best athletes to fight in the UFC. To further this point, Penn fought in eleven main events, headlining nine pay-per-views. In addition, UFC president Dana White has spoken highly of Penn, expressing that Penn built the 155lb division through his accomplishments.

Penn captured his first UFC championship by submitting Matt Hughes in 2004 to win the Welterweight title; Penn would, however, vacate the title after failing to renew his contract with the promotion. Returning two years later in 2006, Penn would suffer back-to-back defeats to George St Pierre and Matt Hughes before dropping to Lightweight as one of the coaches in TUF season 5. Penn would defeat Jens Pulver in the finale, then go on to capture the Lightweight title in 2008 against Joe Stevenson. This would complete a four-year period between the time he first won a UFC title in the weight class above. Penn would defend the Lightweight title three times against Sean Shrek, Kenny Florian, and Diego Sanchez, breaking the record for the most times this title has been defended. A record that still stands today, currently tied with Khabib Nurmagamedov.

During this spell, Penn would have another shot at the Welterweight title in an opportunity to become the first-ever "champ champ" but would suffer another defeat to GSP. After losing his Lightweight title in 2010 to Frankie Edgar, Penn suffered one of the worst stints in the UFC and has since been criticized for fighting past his prime. He would win only one fight in his next eleven, losing nine and drawing one, losing to notable opponents such as Nick Diaz, Rory Mcdonald, Frankie Edgar, Yair Rodriguez, and Clay Guida along the way.

Since retirement, Penn tried his hand at politics running for governor in the 2022 Hawaii gubernatorial election and finished as the runner-up.

Daniel Cormier

Photo Credts to: Joe Camporeale/ USA Today Sports.
Photo Credts to: Joe Camporeale/ USA Today Sports.

Daniel Cormier's impact on the UFC cannot be understated. Since retiring, Cormier has been an integral part of the UFC as a commentator and analyst. In addition, his knowledge and passion for the sport have made him a beloved figure among fans and fellow fighters alike.

Starting his UFC career as a Heavyweight, and with two successful wins over Frank Mir and Roy Nelson, the then-undefeated Cormier made it known that he would be dropping down to 205lbs as his friend and teammate Cain Velazquez was the current Heavyweight champion. Amid concerns about whether Cormier would be able to make the weight limit due to issues in the past as an Olympic wrestler at 211 lbs, Cormier would go down in history as one of the greatest Light Heavyweights of all time.

Cormier would win his first two fights at Light Heavyweight against Patrick Cummings and Dan Henderson before suffering his first loss to rival Jon Jones in 2015. This title would later be vacated, and Cormier would defeat Anthony Johnson to capture the title. After that, Cormier would successfully defend the title twice against Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson before facing off against Jon Jones for a second time. Although he initially lost the fight via a head kick in the third round, this loss would be overturned due to Jones testing positive for banned substances. Finally, Cormier would beat Volkan Oezdemir before moving to Heavyweight in July 2018.

Three years after his Light Heavyweight title victory, Cormier would beat Heavyweight legend Stipe Miocic via first-round KO. Making him the second UFC fighter to hold two UFC titles simultaneously, only after Conor Mcgregor.

Cormier would defend the title once against Derrick Lewis before back-to-back defeats to previous opponent Stipe Miocic before his retirement in 2020.

Jon Jones

Photo credits to: AP Photo/David Becker.
Photo credits to: AP Photo/David Becker.

Jon Jones is widely regarded as the greatest fighter in UFC history. Jones made his UFC debut in 2008 and quickly rose through the ranks to become a dominant force in the Light Heavyweight division, becoming the youngest UFC champion along the way.

Jones defeated Mauricio Rua in 2011 at just 23 years old to capture the UFC Light Heavyweight championship, meaning for the past 12 years, Jones has competed in a whopping 16 title fights in a row. Breaking the record for the most consecutive title defenses at Light Heavyweight along the way, with six defenses, and extended this to eight after defeating Daniel Cormier in 2015. Jones was later stripped of the title for violating the UFC athlete's code of conduct policy. This setback would see Jones out of action for over a year, but he would ultimately come back and beat Qvince Saint Preux for the interim title in 2016. This would mean that Jones would capture a second title five years after winning his first, although never losing a fight along the way.

Jones would continue to find himself in controversy after having this title stripped for testing positive for a banned substance and then having his following fight with Cormier overturned for also testing positive for a banned substance. This wouldn't halt Jone's dominance; however, he would further win the vacated title against Alexander Gustafsson in 2018 and defend the title three more times before making his long-awaited debut at Heavyweight. More recently, Jones became the heavyweight champion after a three-year hiatus submitting Ciryl Gane in just over two minutes in the first round.

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