Winning a UFC title is the hardest thing to do in MMA, but defending it and staying on top might be even more challenging. If you wonder who holds the record for most UFC title defenses in history, you have come to the right place.
Former UFC Light Heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, has 13 title defenses on his record, the most in UFC history. The second place belongs to flyweight king Demetrious Johnson who has defended his title 11 times. Johnson also holds a record for the most consecutive defenses, scoring 11 wins.
But who is the fighter with the most title defenses in one year? Who has defended their UFC titles the most per each weight class? Read this article to find all the answers.
Most UFC Title Defenses
Following is a list of the UFC fighters with the most title defenses in history and a detailed explanation of their achievements.
The former light heavyweight, Jon Jones, is the most dominant UFC champion in history, with 13 title defenses on his record. He won the title by beating Mauricio Rua at UFC 128 in 2011. He looked unstoppable for the next nine years against the most formidable opposition. Some of the names he dismantled inside the octagon include:
- Daniel Cormier
- Lyoto Machida
- Rampage Jackson
- Alexander Gustaffson (twice)
Skill-wise, Jones was an enigma during this period. He was a fighter ahead of his time and a master in utilizing his long physical attributes to perfection. And when it comes to Jones, it’s not all about the numbers and records, as he looked unstoppable in most of his fights.
Many fans would agree Demetrious Johnson is one of the most underrated UFC champions who never deserved enough credit for his achievements. The man has defended his flyweight throne 11 times before moving to ONE Championship in 2020.
Johnson joined the UFC roster from WEC in 2012 when the UFC decided to establish the flyweight division. He won the inaugural title by beating Joseph Benavidez at UFC 152, and he went on to dominate the division for the next five years. In this period, he beat big names such as Henry Cejudo, Kyoji Horiguchi, Ray Borg, and many others.
Apart from being dominant in terms of wins, Johnson is a once-in-a-lifetime athlete and a very exciting fighter. As of 2022, he remains the only second fighter to win UFC bonus payments in all four possible categories:
- Fight of the night
- Submission of the night
- Knockout of the night
- Performance of the night
Often seen as one of the greatest of all time, Anderson Silva, in his prime, was a force to be reckoned with and, by far, the most exciting fighter of his era.
During his reign as the middleweight champion, he accumulated 10 UFC title defenses and the most wins in middleweight title fights 11. Although third on this list, Silva holds the record for the longest title reign in UFC history (2457 days) as of 2022.
Silva won the middleweight crown by beating Rich Franklin in 2006 at UFC 64, and he stayed on top for six years before losing it to Chris Weidman at UFC 162.
Silva was a wizard inside the octagon and one of those fighters who could be three steps ahead of their opponents during the match. The fact that he scored the most finishes in UFC title fights (9) speaks for itself regarding his style and how dominant he was inside the octagon.
GSP is the most dominant welterweight champion in history, with 9 UFC title defenses and the most extraordinary MMA talent. He won the title by knocking out Matt Hughes at UFC 65 in 2006.
Despite losing his first title defense against Matt Serra in 2007, GSP returned to the drawing board and bounced back with two dominant wins to win the interim belt before unifying the titles by beating Serra in the rematch.
After defending his title 9 times, GSP left the sport in 2013. However, he came back four years later, in 2017, to move up in weight class and beat Michel Bisping for the middleweight title. This way, he became the fourth multi-divisional UFC champion in history.
Amanda Nunes, Jose Aldo, Valentina Shechenko (7)
Jose Aldo, arguably the greatest featherweight in history, defended his throne 7 times between 2010 and 2014 before losing to Conor McGregor at UFC 194. He later re-captured the interim belt after beating Frankie Edgar but lost it in his first title defense.
Amanda Nunes is the most dominant UFC bantamweight champion in history, with five title defenses. However, she also defended her featherweight title twice, making it 7 in total. Valentina Shevchenko also has 7 but within the flyweight division.
While Nunes and Shevchenko may improve their numbers, Aldo won’t, as he retired from the sport in 2022.
Most Consecutive UFC Title Defenses
Demetrious Johnson — 11
Johnson defended his flyweight 11 times in a row and did it between 2013 and 2017. This means Jonson was putting his title on the line almost three times a year, which makes him one of the busiest champions in history.
2. Anderson Silva — 10
Anderson Silva was on top of the world between 2006, when he won the middleweight title, all the way to 2013, before he lost it to Chris Weidman. During this run, he dismantled just about every opponent. If it wasn’t for a couple of incidents, he could have had more title defenses than Johnson.
In his first title defense, Silva faced and beat Travis Lutter via second-round TKO. But since Lutter missed weight the day before, the match was listed as a “non-title” fight.
Next, he KO’d James Irvin’s in his fifth title defense, but since Irvin tested positive for PEDs, the match ended up being a non-title fight again. The same happened when he KO’d Stephan Bonnar and Forest Griffin, who tested positive for illegal substances.
So whenever people are talking about Silva’s records and defenses, you must consider these factors.
3. Georges St. Pierre – 9
GSP is a former two-time welterweight champion. The first time he won the title, he immediately lost it in his first defense against Matt Serra. But when he re-captured it a year later in 2008, he went on a nine-fight winning streak. He later moved up in weight to win the middleweight title, but he never defended it as he left the sport.
4. Jon Jones — 8
Jon Jones is the former two-time light heavyweight champion. During his first reign, he defended his title eight times before being stripped for violating UFC’s Athlete Code of Conduct Policy in 2015. He then re-captured the title by beating Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 and defending it three times the following year.
Most UFC Title Defenses By Weight Class
Women’s weight classes
|Women’s Strawweight||Joanna Jedrzejczyk||5||1||4|
|Women’s Flyweight||Valentina Shevchenko||7||4||3|
|Women’s Bantamweight||Ronda Rousey||6||6||0|
|Women’s featherweight||Amanda Nunes||2||1||1|
Men’s weight classes
|Light Heavyweight||Jon Jones||11||4||7|
|Welterweight||George St. Pierre||9||1||8|
Most UFC Title Defenses In One Year
Tito Ortiz — 4
Tito Ortiz defended his light heavyweight title four times between December 2000 and September 2001. In a single year, he beat:
- Yuki Kondo (Submission) UFC 29
- Evan Tanner (KO Slam) UFC UFC 30
- Elvis Sinosic (TKO) UFC 32
- Vladimir Matyushenko (Unanimous Decision) UFC 33
Chuck Liddell — 3
In his prime, Liddell was the scariest fighter of his era and one of the busiest. Between August 2005 and August 2006, he defended his title three times against:
- Jeremy Horn (TKO) UFC 54
- Randy Couture (KO) UFC 57
- Renato Sobral (TKO) UFC 62
Frank Shamrock — 3
Frank Shamrock won the inaugural UFC light heavyweight title in December 1997. His first title defense came on March 1998, and he went on to defend it two more times the same year:
- Igor Zinoviev (KO) UFC 16
- Jeremy Horn (Submission) UFC 17
- John Lober (TKO) UFC Brazil
Statistical data, records, and achievements are a part of every sport. But whenever MMA fans talk about greatness, one of the key factors they consider is the number of UFC title defenses. Although not the only one, there is a big reason why title defenses are so important in MMA.
First, MMA is the most complex sport with so many variables and ways you can lose, more than in other combat sports such as boxing. Thus, winning the title and staying on top is very hard. You can see champions switching on the throne all the time, and seeing a champion defending the title more than a couple of times has become quite rare in modern times.