One of the greatest achievements in combat sports is winning major titles in multiple weight classes. This accomplishment can only be accomplished by talented fighters who can adapt their weight and style to different divisions. At UFC 295, Alex Pereira has the chance to join the small roster of elite athletes who have completed this goal in this UFC, and with the event going down this weekend on November 11th, now is the perfect time to recap all the UFC fighters who have won titles in multiple divisions.
For every record, there's a first, and in this instance, Randy Couture was the first UFC fighter to capture titles in multiple divisions. "The Natural" is a six-time UFC Champion, winning the Heavyweight title three times, the Light-Heavyweight title two times, and the Interim Light-Heavyweight title once. After winning the UFC 15 tournament, Couture was matched against Maurice Smith for the Heavyweight Championship and won via majority decision in 1997, but would later vacate the title due to contractual disputes. He would become Heavyweight Champion again in 2001 but lost it to Josh Barnett (who would then be stripped due to a positive drug test) a year later.
Instead of trying to make another run at Heavyweight, Couture would take the opportunity at UFC 43 to face Chuck Liddell for the interim Light-Heavyweight title, with the winner getting a crack at the Champion Tito Ortiz. Couture would defeat Liddell via third-round TKO and then beat Ortiz via a decision to unify the title. After 43 UFC PPVs, there was a fighter who claimed titles in multiple weight divisions. Couture would go 7-6 until his retirement in 2011, but his legacy was already vastly cemented long before his career ended.
The second fighter to hold titles in multiple weight classes is one of the Lightweight GOATs, B.J. "The Prodigy" Penn. Across his thirty-two fight career, twenty-seven of his bouts were in the UFC. Penn started his professional MMA career with three KO/TKO wins in the UFC, which set him up for a Lightweight title shot against Jens Pulver, which Penn would lose the bout via majority decision. However, Pulver would leave the UFC following a contract dispute and never return to the UFC, allowing Penn to earn a second title shot after securing two more wins in the promotion. Yet, his second Lightweight title shot would go to a draw against Caol Uno, and he would leave the UFC momentarily to fight in K-1.
Penn would return to the UFC in 2004, where he was offered a matchup against the Welterweight Champion, Matt Hughes, at UFC 46. Penn accepted the matchup and turned in one of the biggest UFC upsets, submitting Hughes in the first round to become the Champion. But, Penn would once again exit the UFC and move to K-1 until 2005. Penn returned to the UFC in 2006 but suffered back-to-back defeats to Georges St. Pierre and Matt Hughes, leading Penn to drop back down to the Lightweight division. It was then that he finally captured the Lightweight title on his third attempt, submitting Joe Stevenson in round two. What followed after that was a stop-and-start pace of wins and losses in Championship bouts before going on the longest losing streak (7) in UFC history. Despite this, Penn's prime was a legendary run, and his accolades inside the Lightweight division weren't forgotten when he was inducted into the UFC Hall Of Fame in 2015.
"The Notorious" Conor McGregor had one of the most incredible ascendances in combat sports history. At the end of 2012, McGregor was a two-divisional Cage Warriors Champion, which granted him way into the UFC. In 2013, he made quick work of Marcus Brimage in his debut, followed by a decision win over Max Holloway. From there, McGregor was a knockout machine, finishing Diego Brandão, Dustin Poirier, and Dennis Siver en route to an interim title fight against Chad Mendes at UFC 189, where, you guessed it, he finished the fight via TKO in the second round. Everything he has accomplished across the years led up to the undisputed unification Championship fight against Jose Aldo at UFC 194, and McGregor KOed him in fourteen seconds, claiming the Featherweight title and becoming the first Irishman to do so.
From there, McGregor would engage in two legendary battles at Welterweight against Nate Diaz, losing their first matchup by submission but rebounding with a majority decision win in the rematch. Then, while still holding the Featherweight title, McGregor would challenge newly crowned Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez for his title at UFC 205, the first UFC event to be held in the MSG Arena. In one of the most impressive performances in UFC history, McGregor would drop Alvarez three times before finishing him late in the second round. With this win, he became the first simultaneous two-division world Champion, the peak of his career. Most people know the story following this bout; he fought Floyd Mayweather in boxing, headlined UFC 229 vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov, rebounded from that with a sub-minute TKO win over Donald Cerrone, and then dropped two more losses to Dustin Poirier in their rematch and trilogy. Now, in late 2023, the stars may align for a notorious return at UFC 300, but only time will tell.
One of the all-time greats, Georges "GSP" St. Pierre, claimed many accomplishments throughout his illustrious career. But, there may not be an achievement more impressive in his career than breaking a four-year layoff to capture a UFC title in a foreign weight class. But first, let's discuss his early success in MMA. GSP made his UFC debut in January 2004, and after just two victories, challenged Matt Hughes for the vacant Welterweight Championship. He would lose via first-round armbar; however, the Canadian would quickly bounce back and build a five-fight win streak to earn a rematch against Hughes, where he won by a devastating head kick TKO, winning him the Welterweight title on his second attempt. But, in one of the most shocking upsets in UFC history, Matt Serra would TKO St. Pierre in his next bout to steal the title. But this would spur one of the best runs in UFC history, where GSP would avenge his defeat to Serra and go on a twelve-fight win streak.
Following his split-decision win over Jonny Hendricks, GSP vacated the Welterweight title and took time away from the sport. This would end up being four years due to an ACL tear and surgery keeping him out for longer than expected, as well as contractual disputes with the UFC. However, in 2017, four years after his last win, St. Pierre returned to Middleweight to face Michael Bisping at UFC 217. The former Champion would submit Bisping in the third round to claim the Middleweight title before retiring on top with one of the greatest legacies in UFC history.
Throughout his UFC career, Daniel Cormier cemented himself as one of the best fighters in both the Light-Heavyweight and Heavyweight weight classes. Cormier would debut in Strikeforce and spend the majority of his early career there, where he won the Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament. Then, in 2013, Cormier joined the UFC following the purchase of Strikeforce and the roster merger. There, Cormier would make a permanent move to the Light-Heavyweight division, where he dominated and finished Patrick Cummins and Dan Henderson en route to a title shot against Jon Jones, which he would ultimately lose via unanimous decision. However, following Jones being stripped of the title due to a hit-and-run incident, Cormier would take a short-notice matchup against Anthony Johnson for the vacant title, which he won by third-round submission.
After a plethora of controversies at the hands of Jon Jones, Cormier would be KOed at UFC 214 but still retain the title due to a positive drug test on Jones' behalf. Cormier would defend the title once more before moving up to Heavyweight to challenge Stipe Miocic for the title and shockingly upset the long-reigning Champion with a first-round KO. This victory cemented Cormier's legacy, becoming just the second simultaneous two-division Champion and the first in his weight classes. He would go on to defend the belt title against Derrick Lewis before completing the trilogy with Miocic, where he would lose both matchups. Despite ending his career with two defeats, Cormier retired, fighting against the best in the world, with both fights being highly competitive.
Widely regarded as the greatest female fighter of all time, Amanda Nunes is the only female on this list, which speaks to her greatness. She is also the only two-time simultaneous two-divisional Champion in UFC history. After racking up big wins over Valentina Shevchenko, Germaine De Randemie, and Sarah McMann, Nunes claimed her first title in 2016, where she headlined UFC 200. She dominated the Champion Meisha Tate, outstriking her 40-3 on the total strikes, before submitting her in the first round. From there, she began one of the most dominant runs in the sport's history.
Nunes defended her title three times against Ronda Rousey, Shevchenko, and Raquel Pennington; Nunes would move up to Featherweight to fight titleholder Cris Cyborg at UFC 232. Amazingly, Nunes would KO Cyborg (who had not lost since her MMA debut in 2005) in under a minute to become the third simultaneous two-division world Champion in UFC history. Nunes defended both titles multiple times, only losing once to Julianna Pena, which she avenged in the rematch before retiring on June 20th, 2023, following a dominant win over Irene Aldana.
Henry "Triple C" Cejudo earned his nickname by becoming a Champion in three things: two UFC divisions and a gold medalist in the Olympics for freestyle wrestling. We won't cover his Olympic stint, but we will cover his sensational UFC run. Cejudo debuted in the UFC with a 7-0 record and won his first four bouts by decision, granting him a shot at the Flyweight Champion, Demetrious Johnson. Cejudo would suffer his first career defeat at the hands of Johnson, who TKOed Cejudo in the first round with devastating clinch strikes. Then, "Triple C" would coach the ultimate fighter against heated rival Joseph Benavidez but would lose their matchup by split decision. Following back-to-back defeats, Cejudo noticeably improved his striking and adopted a karate fighting style mixed in with his high-level wrestling. This style allowed him to make another run at the Flyweight title, where he would rematch Johnson at UFC 227 and win via split decision.
For his first title defense, Cejudo would TKO T.J. Dillashaw, who was also attempting to become a two-division Champion by moving down to Flyweight. Off the back of a positive drug test on Dillashaw's end, Cejudo would claim the opportunity to challenge for the vacant Bantamweight title against Marlon Moraes. After a terrible start in the first round, Cejudo would adjust mid-fight and TKO Moraes in the third round, capturing the Bantamweight title and becoming the fourth (and currently last) simultaneous two-division UFC Champion. Following his victory, Cejudo would defend the Bantamweight title against Dominick Cruz before retiring in 2020. Cejudo broke his retirement earlier this year when he attempted to become a 2x Bantamweight Champion against Aljamain Sterling but lost via split decision. With a potential matchup against Merab Dvalishvili on the horizon, it seems Cejudo isn't finished drawing his legacy yet.
Our final entry joined the list just this year, in March at UFC 285. If his career weren't shrouded with positive drug tests, multiple title strippings, and court battles, nearly everyone would regard Jon Jones as the GOAT. Still, it's undeniable that he is one of the greatest fighters of all time, and this accomplishment only adds to that viewpoint. It took Jones seven UFC bouts to earn a title shot in 2011, where he defeated Shogun Rua in a one-sided beatdown to earn the title; for the next nine years, every fight in Jones' career would be for a title, and he would win every time apart from a No Contest vs. Daniel Cormier.
In 2020, following a unanimous decision win over Dominick Reyes, Jones vacated the title to make a permanent move up to Heavyweight. Much to fans' dismay, it would take three years for his next fight. After the highly anticipated matchup against Francis Ngannou faded away with Ngannous's UFC departure, Jones would instead face Ciryl Gane at UFC 285 for the vacant Heavyweight title. "Bones" would make the fight look easy, securing an early takedown in the first round before submitting Gane with a guillotine choke. Now, the world awaits a new date for Jones' next bout, likely against Stipe Miocic in late 2024.
Do you think Alex Pereria can join this list of names this weekend, or will he fall victim to the unorthodox striking of Jiri Prochazka? Either way, as a member of the Verdict Community, let us know in the comments below.