The UFC has had numerous champions. And unless you’re willing to watch every UFC event or scour the Internet for various sources offering different information, and then afterward try to sort through who won what when, and at what division and weight class, then you will probably become very confused.
What we at Yell! Magazine decided to do is accomplish this task for you. We will start at the beginning and inform you who was the champion at every tournament, at every event, and at every weight class with an explanation of its history. With any luck, after reading this article, you will be the most informed UFC fan on the planet.
We have broken up the list into eras with dates given for important changes to the UFC formats. Loosely speaking, there are three eras to the UFC: The Early Years (1993-1997), The Middle Years (1997-2001), and The Modern Years (2001-present).
The Early Years (1993-1997)
The early years of the UFC was a simple time. There were very few rules, no weight classes and a tournament-style fight card. Fighters would enter the octagon and fight until there was a winner. The only rules were no eye-gouging and no biting. There was also no time limit and, therefore, no rounds. The only way to win was by tap out, knock out, or a towel throw in.
Here is the first list of champions before any major format changes:
First UFC Champion – Royce Gracie (Nov. 12, 1993-Sept. 9, 1994)
Royce Gracie became champion at the inaugural UFC tournament and defended his title at UFC 2.
Second UFC Champion – Steve Jennum (Sept. 9, 1994-Dec. 6, 1994)
Royce Gracie failed to defend his title due to exhaustion in his semifinal fight. Jennum beat Harold Howard in the final.
Third UFC Champion – Royce Gracie (Dec. 6, 1994-Feb. 16, 1995)
Royce Gracie returned to win UFC 4. As for Steve Jennum, he withdrew due to injury after his quarterfinal bout with Melton Bowan.
Do you know what the first major format change was in the UFC?