Winning the gold in the most prominent organization of the toughest combat sport on the planet is a glory that very few fighters get to grasp. This easily explains why one of the most precious pieces of hardware in all of combat sports is the UFC championship belt. But do UFC fighters keep their belts when they are no longer champions?
Once a fighter wins a title, the belt always remains in his possession so they can keep it. They will inevitably lose the title one way or another, but they are allowed to keep the belt.
The UFC has had two different belts and systems surrounding them in their history, and below, we will look at how both worked and how much a UFC belt costs, and what it’s made from.
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When a UFC fighter wins a championship match, he is awarded the title and a championship belt as a trophy of his victory. In both the classic and the current Legacy UFC belt systems, fighters get to keep their belt even after they lose, vacate, or retire. Even when they are no longer the champions of their weight division.
The current era in the UFC is called the Legacy UFC belt. It was introduced in 2019 when Henry Cejudo defended his flyweight title against TJ Dillashaw and got awarded the new belt. It replaced the classic one and implemented a few fundamental changes.
Aside from the complete visual overhaul, the most significant change introduced was what happened when a fighter defended his title. For every successful defense under the legacy system, a diamond on the left plate of the belt gets replaced with a red ruby. Engraved next to it is the date and place of the fight.
Are UFC Belts Reused?
No, the belts are not reused because each champion keeps their belt even after they are no longer the reigning champion of their division. New belts have to be produced for each new champion in the UFC.
The original belt system in the UFC was adopted from boxing, just like many other aspects of the sport. Even when a fighter loses and is no longer the champion, they are allowed to keep their belt. And this is, of course, the right way of doing it.
The triumph of a hard-won victory in a championship fight should have some material representation that stays with the fighter for life. Like athletes in other sports, they win medals, rings, or other precious hardware to celebrate their achievements.
Since 2019 and the introduction of the Legacy belt, after every defense, champions get a new red ruby instead of the white diamond on the special customizable plate on the left side of the belt. They are not awarded a completely new belt. If someone surpasses 8 defenses (that’s how many white stones the customizable plate has), the UFC can continue the same thing on the other side of the belt.
But suppose a fighter wins a title in another weight class. In that case, they are awarded a new belt for their new title so that a double champion may have two Legacy belts.
But before that, the UFC followed the same system as boxing. For each title fight, a new belt was awarded to the winner, which means the champs got a shiny new belt for each defense. Floyd Mayweather has a famous photo of his incredible collection of title belts.
This irritated former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, who brought up that he only had one belt for 8 title defenses. In this case, UFC president Dana White kept his word and sent Mighty Mouse his well-deserved accolades, which resulted in this iconic photo:
The old classic UFC title belt is worth around $300 000. At least, that’s what we’ve learned from UFC legend and current commentator Michael Bisping. In one of his podcasts, he said that this sum was relayed from Dana White to Rashad Evans. It’s not clear if this is the price for manufacturing or the approximate selling price of a genuine belt.
The Legacy belt indeed costs a lot more to produce. Given that the UFC no longer awards new belts for title defenses, they made the new belt even more spectacular than the old one. A great touch that fighters love is that the legacy belts are far more customizable than the classic ones.
Each belt is customized with the champion’s name, weight class, and country. When a champion defends the belt, he sends the customizable plate for an upgrade while the belt stays with him.
The price for the 10 lb. piece of hardware is not widely known, but it is undoubtedly priceless for a fighter that has won. And since most mortals won’t come anywhere near winning a UFC belt, the organization offers replicas for $850 each, which may not fool many people. Still, it can be at least an excellent cosplay accessory.
Do UFC Belts Have Real Gold & Diamonds?
The UFC belt has real gold but not real diamonds. The UFC logo on the front, the strapping buttons, and the rest of the UFC logos are all made from high polished gold. The central 25 stones, representing the 25 years of the UFC and the ones on the left and right plates, are made from a material called white cubic zirconia.
It is a man-made substitute for natural diamonds with a lot of the qualities of precious stones. The red stones that come with title defenses are from created rubies. With all that said, you can quickly see how valuable a UFC belt is, even as simply a piece of hardware and without the weight of the accomplishment of winning it.
The UFC championship belt is one of the most coveted prizes in all martial arts, and only a few fighters can obtain it. So, it is only fitting that they get to keep the belt they won, even after they are no longer the champion.