UFC Weight Classes & Their Champions: A History

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Conclusion

It has been the practice of many websites to retrofit the present day weight classes and divisions onto the weight classes and divisions of pre-May 4, 2001, UFC events (pre-UFC 31, in other words). Although this is convienant in one way historically speaking, it is quite confusing in another.

Frank ShamrockFor example, If you look on Wikipedia’s List of UFC champions It states that the first UFC Light Heavyweight Champion was Frank Shamrock. Shamrock fought in an era when there was no light heavyweight division in the UFC. At the time he was a middleweight. In fact, his normal weight of 185 pounds put him in the middleweight division.

To further illustrate the point, when speaking of confusion, Wikipedia lists the first middleweight champion as Dave Menne who won the title at UFC 33. This is obviously inaccurate as the middleweight division was first created back at UFC 14 and Frank Shamrock became its first belt holder at UFC Japan (Dec. 21, 1997).

There are other examples of this (Jens Pulver, Pat Miletich) as weight classes are created, renamed, expanded, and shrunk over the history of the UFC. To make it easier on you, below is a list of the first champions at each weight class designation and date of creation over the history of the UFC.

Super Heavyweight

First Created: UFC 28, then abandoned afterward until UFC 31.
First Champion: None, the division was dormant except for a non-title bout at UFC 28 between Josh Barnett and Gan McGee.

Heavyweight

First Created: UFC 12
First Champion: Mark Coleman (UFC 12)

Light Heavyweight

First Created: UFC 28, then abandoned afterward until UFC 31.
First Champion: Tito Ortiz (the middleweight champion who moved into the new lightweight division, UFC 31)

Middleweight

First Created: UFC 14
First Champion: Frank Shamrock (UFC Japan)

Welterweight

First Created: UFC 28, then abandoned afterward until UFC 31.
First Champion: Pat Miletich (the lightweight champion who moved into the renamed welterweight division, UFC 31)

Lightweight

First Created: UFC 12
First Champion: Pat Miletich (UFC Brazil)

Featherweight

First Created: UFC 28, then abandoned afterward until UFC 31.
First Champion: Jose Aldo (UFC 123)

Bantamweight

First Created: UFC 26
First Champion: Jens Pulver (UFC 30)

Flyweight

First Created: UFC 28, then abandoned afterward until UFC 31.
First Champion: None, the division has been dormant since its creation.

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