7 UFC Fighters Won the Same Championship More than Once

7 UFC Fighters Won the Same Championship More than Once

By Jack MacCool
Friday, July 29th 2022, 3:34AM, 13 days ago

Capturing a UFC title is no easy feat. To do it not once but twice is as impressive as accolades in MMA get, and with UFC 277: Pena vs. Nunes 2 fast approaching, there’s a chance Amanda Nunes could add her name to an exclusive list of fighters who have captured the same UFC title more than once. The event will take place in Dallas, Texas and features a pair of title fights as well as some other appointment viewing up and down the card. But it is the main event that will be drawing the most eyes as Nunes looks to right the ship after losing her UFC Women’s Bantamweight title to Julianna Pena last December in what many are calling the biggest upset in MMA history to this point. If Amanda can get it done, she’ll become the third two-time champion in UFC women’s history and the prospect of her regaining the throne was the inspiration for this list; 7 fighters who won a UFC championship more than once.

Jon Jones

Jon Jones roars as he steps on the scale at the UFC 235 weigh ins. Credits to: Esther Lin-MMAFighting.
Jon Jones roars as he steps on the scale at the UFC 235 weigh ins. Credits to: Esther Lin-MMAFighting.

One cannot examine the career of Jon ‘Bones’ Jones without being aware of his extracurricular activity which saw him get stripped of his UFC Light Heavyweight title twice, and an Interim Light Heavyweight title once. Now in order for a champion to be stripped of the title twice, it means they would have had to win the title twice as well, which is why Jon Jones begins this list. Jones’ first title reign began at UFC 128, where he defeated Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua by knockout in an incredible performance that also saw him become the youngest champion in the promotion’s history–a record that still stands today. He then rattled off eight consecutive title defences, including wins over four former champions. That brought him to mid-2015 when he was involved in a felony hit-and-run. As a result, the UFC stripped him of the title, leaving Daniel Cormier to scoop it up in Jones’ absence. Jon would return from his hiatus in 2015 and defeat Ovince Saint Preux for the interim title after Cormier pulled out due to injury, however he was then stripped of his interim title after failing a pre-fight drug test. Finally Jones would face off with Cormier for a second time and he would stop his biggest rival via strikes stemming from a gorgeous left high kick. Unfortunately for Jones, the win would be overturned to a no-contest due to yet another failed pre-fight drug test, meaning he would have to wait if he wanted to be a two-time champ. Cormier was reinstated as champion but would vacate the title 174 days after becoming a double champ, opening the door for Jones to win the title again. On December 29, 2018, Jon would face Alexander Gustafsson for a second time for the vacant championship. Jones stopped the Swede and reclaimed the title he had never lost in the Octagon.

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Dominick Cruz

Dominick Cruz raising his UFC Championship after defeating TJ Dillashaw. Credits to: Bob Chiara-USA TODAY Sports.
Dominick Cruz raising his UFC Championship after defeating TJ Dillashaw. Credits to: Bob Chiara-USA TODAY Sports.

Dominick Cruz’s career is a story of perseverance and overcoming adversity. He first began his time as a titleholder in World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), where he was their Bantamweight champion. Prior to the UFC-WEC merger, Cruz defeated Scott Jorgensen to retain his belt, and was then awarded the inaugural UFC Bantamweight title as a result. From there he defended the title twice, avenging his only career loss to that point by beating Urijah Faber by unanimous decision at UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber. His second defence in his first stint as champion came against Demetrious Johnson in October of 2011, a loss that would age incredibly nicely as time went on. Unfortunately for Dominick and fans alike, he would not return to the Octagon for nearly three full years due to a plethora of injuries. Cruz vacated the title in the midst of his injury woes due to not being able to compete. When Cruz returned in late 2014, he defeated Takeya Mizugaki by KO in one minute, vaulting him right back into title contention for the belt he never lost. During Cruz’s absence, TJ Dillashaw had become the staple of the UFC Bantamweight division, defeating Renan Barão twice as well as defending the belt against Joe Soto as well. Cruz would face Dillashaw at the height of his powers in January of 2016, where he would come away with a razor thin split decision victory to recapture the belt. After so many trials and tribulations, Dominick Cruz was a champion once more.

Rose Namajunas

Rose Namajunas after her rematch against Jessica Andrade. Credits to: Jeff Bottari-Zuffa LLC.
Rose Namajunas after her rematch against Jessica Andrade. Credits to: Jeff Bottari-Zuffa LLC.

In the words of the great Daniel Cormier, “when Rose Namajunus wins titles, she does it in spectacular fashion”, and boy is that quote accurate. Rose began her career in the UFC fighting for the inaugural Strawweight Championship against Carla Esparza (man does this division ever come full circle). Unfortunately for ‘Thug’ Rose, she would lose to Esparza via choke in the third round. She would then make her way back to the title conversation with wins over Angela Hill, Paige Vanzant, Tecia Torres, and Michelle Waterson-Gomez. However by this time, Esparza had given her belt up to the boogeywoman of the division, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Entering UFC 217 Joanna was a -700 favourite to defeat Rose, and much to the shock of the MMA world, Rose dethroned Joanna Champion in just over three minutes via KO. Sadly for Rose, she loses titles in spectacular fashion as well, as in her second title defence she was spiked on her head and knocked out by Jessica Andrade, leaving her in disarray about where to go next. Thankfully for MMA fans, Rose returned just over a year later and avenged her loss to Andrade in a rematch on Fight Island, propelling her into another title shot against Weili Zhang who had defeated Andrade to win the belt. Her fight with Weili was just getting started when Namajunas split Weili’s guard with a head kick, knocking the champion out with one of the most exhilarating knockouts of the year. ‘Thug’ Rose had done it again. Since then, she defended the title against Weili, then lost it to Esparza–eight years after their first encounter. With Rose’s ability to overcome obstacles physically and mentally, she very well could be a three-time champion in the future.

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Stipe Miocic

Stipe Miocic waiting to defend his UFC Heavyweight title. Credits to: Esther Lin-MMAFighting.
Stipe Miocic waiting to defend his UFC Heavyweight title. Credits to: Esther Lin-MMAFighting.

Stipe Miocic is widely regarded as the greatest Heavyweight in UFC history and a lot of it stems from how he was able to win his belt back. Miocic first grabbed UFC gold in 2016 when he knocked out Fabricio Werdum in the first round at UFC 198. From there he defended the belt three times, defeating Junior Dos Santos, Allistair Overeem, and Francis Ngannou, before running into a recurring name on this list, Daniel Cormier. The two would face off for the first of three meetings in mid-2018. Cormier would get the better of the Croatian-American, knocking him out in the very first round. Miocic would sit out a full year before returning to rematch ‘DC’ in 2019. The fight was wildly different from the first with each man seeing great success in the first three rounds. However in the fourth, Stipe would find the mark on what felt like 30 consecutive liver shots before hurting Cormier to the head and finishing him on the ground. Instantly, Miocic had solidified himself as an all time great, and he would defeat Cormier for a second time in their rubber match in 2020, before losing the belt to Francis Ngannou in March of 2021.

Georges St. Pierre

Georges St-Pierre after finshing Michael Bisping to become the UFC Middleweight Champion. Credits to: Jeff Bottari-Zuffa LLC.
Georges St-Pierre after finshing Michael Bisping to become the UFC Middleweight Champion. Credits to: Jeff Bottari-Zuffa LLC.

‘GSP’ is one of the single greatest fighters in the history of the sport, but without an upset loss that would see him lose his belt, he may have never known the success he knows today. However, before he could ever lose his Welterweight title, he had to win it first. This takes us back all the way to UFC 65: Bad Intentions, where St. Pierre faced the champion Matt Hughes for the Welterweight strap. Georges had shared the cage with Hughes once prior, a first round armbar loss, but this time would be far different as St. Pierre thrashed the champion, finishing him via headkick just 1:25 into the second round. He was finally a world champion, although it wouldn’t last long as challenger Matt Serra arrived in town in April of 2007. Serra had won the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter, with the grand prize being a title shot against the dominant St. Pierre. Nobody expected Serra to make it out of the first round, let alone defeat ‘GSP’. But as we've learned many times as MMA fans, MMA math doesn’t work, and Serra beat Georges by first round knockout, claiming the title. Serra’s first title defence would be a rematch against St. Pierre who had beaten Josh Kosheck and Matt Hughes to get himself another crack at the Long Islander. This time, Georges would not be denied and nearly one year to the date later, he stopped Serra with vicious knees to the body in the second round. From then on ‘GSP’ wouldn’t lose another fight, defending his title nine times before taking a four-year break from MMA. He’d return in 2017 and capture the Middleweight title, solidifying himself as the greatest Welterweight the sport had ever seen.

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Deivison Figueiredo

Deiveson Figueiredo after finally defeating Brandon Moreno. Credits to: Josh Hedges-Zuffa LLC.
Deiveson Figueiredo after finally defeating Brandon Moreno. Credits to: Josh Hedges-Zuffa LLC.

The most recent entry that made this list is the incumbent Flyweight Champion, Deiveson Figueiredo. Figueiredo’s championship history began in just 2020, but he had produced one of the most exciting eras in sometime. He first captured the belt against Joseph Benavidez in July of 2020 with a devastating first round rear naked choke. Then, in November he defeated Alex Perez via first round guillotine choke. On the same card, Brandon Moreno defeated Brandon Royval via TKO due to an injury. With both fighters hardly winded or injured, the two decided to fight less than one month later at UFC 256 for the title. The two Flyweights would put on what was a fight of the year contender, ending in a majority draw. Naturally, the UFC would run it right back in June of the following year, only this time Moreno would be too much for ‘Figgy’ as he put him away with a third round submission. With the score at 1-0-1 for Moreno, the UFC decided to go with the trilogy bout in January of this year, with many expecting the younger Moreno to make even shorter work of the Brazilian former champ. The fight would go the full five rounds with each fighter having their moments. Figueiredo would land less volume but overwhelm Moreno with his power shots, scoring three knockdowns. When the fight was over, nobody knew who would get the nod from the judges, but as the scores were read it was ‘Deus da Guerra’ who would get the victory–48-47 across the board. Figueiredo became the first Flyweight UFC fighter to recapture the title and become a two-time champion, but Moreno could join him shortly if he gets by Kai Kara-France this weekend and sees Figueiredo for a fourth time.

Randy Couture

Randy Couture after making weight at his final fight at Heavyweight. Credits to: Jon Kapaloff-Zuffa LLC.
Randy Couture after making weight at his final fight at Heavyweight. Credits to: Jon Kapaloff-Zuffa LLC.

Randy Couture is the only fighter on this list to become a multiple time champion in multiple weight classes–a feat that may never be accomplished again. Not only that, but Couture is a three-time Heavyweight Champion, another feat that may never be accomplished again. His first UFC championship reign began at UFC - Ultimate Japan after he defeated Maurice Smith by majority decision to claim the belt. He was then stripped of the title after he failed to defend the belt against who the UFC wanted. He returned to the UFC after a short stint in Japan when he fought Kevin Randleman in November of 2000 for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Couture was controlled for the first two rounds but turned the tide late, getting the TKO victory and his second UFC Heavyweight title. Couture would defend the title twice against Pedro Rizzo, with the first being a razor thin decision, and the second being a third round TKO. Unfortunately for Couture, his second stint as champion would come to a violent end at the hands of Josh Barnett in March 2002. However, Barnett was subsequently stripped of the title after testing positive for anabolic steroids and was cut from the UFC. Couture would get another crack at the title after Barnett’s release, but he came up short, losing to Ricco Rodriguez. After consecutive losses, Couture decided to move down to Light Heavyweight where he faced Chuck Liddell for the UFC Interim Light Heavyweight Championship. He beat Liddell by TKO to become the first UFC fighter ever to win titles in two weight classes. With the interim strap in hand, Couture faced Tito Ortiz for the undisputed title. He won the fight by unanimous decision to become the undisputed champion. His first defence would come against Vitor Belfort, a man who Couture had beaten at Heavyweight years prior. The fight would end unceremoniously when Belfort cut Couture’s eye with his glove, leading the cageside physician to stop the fight. The two would fight for the third time later in the year and Couture dominated. He won all three rounds before the doctor stopped the fight due to a cut on Belfort, becoming a two-time champion for the second time. Randy would lose his next contest by knockout in a rematch with Chuck Liddell, followed by a win over Mike van Arsdale before losing a third fight with Liddell. Immediately after the third fight with the ‘Iceman’ Couture would announce his retirement from MMA. However, in early 2007 he announced he would be making a return to competitive MMA against the menacing Tim Sylvia for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. At the ripe age of 43, Couture beat Sylvia by unanimous decision to become the UFC Heavyweight Champion for a third and final time. Couture is a legend of the sport and his reigns at Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight should be remembered forever.

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