Whilst the sport of MMA in itself is very entertaining, the most entertaining division is arguably, the heavyweight division. Often referred to as, ‘the baddest men on the planet’, heavyweight champions certainly live up to their reputation. Naturally, two Goliaths going toe to toe is one of the most exciting spectacles in combat sports.
Interestingly, fights in the heavyweight division also have the highest finish rates with 50% of the fights ending in KO/TKO and 25% ending via submission. Hence, in this regard, the heavyweights are most likely to get you your money’s worth.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Top 10 Heavyweight Champions in MMA History. However, unlike most of our lists, we will be taking into account achievements in other fighting promotions outside of the UFC. As always, these lists will vary from person to person, with each putting more emphasis on what they value more.
#10. Alistair Overeem
Starting off the list we have Alistair Overeem otherwise known as The Demolition Man. Overeem spent the majority of his 60+ plus fights career in the heavyweight division. Alistair has competed around the world in promotions like UFC, Strikeforce, Pride FC, among many others. Throughout his career, Overeem has had multiple notable victories over the likes of Brock Lesnar, Vitor Belfort, Fabricio Werdum, and more.
Additionally, Overeem has been the Heavyweight Champion in Strikeforce and Dream and is also the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix Winner. Currently, Overeem is looking to make his return to combat sports with Glory Kickboxing in 2021.
#9. Francis Ngannou
Francis Ngannou is one of the most frightening heavyweights ever. Also known as the Predator, Ngannou is reportedly the record hardest puncher in the UFC. After beginning his career in French promotions, Ngannou made his way to the UFC. Additionally, Ngannou has recently topped off his five-fight win streak by beating the Heavyweight champ, Stipe Miocic at UFC 260.
Having lost to Stipe in their previous meeting, Ngannou claimed Miocic’s belt with a scary knockout win. With wins over Alistair Overeem, Cain Velasquez, etc, Ngannou looks set to hold his belt for the foreseeable future.
#8. Frank Mir
One of the biggest what if’s in MMA History, Frank Mir had all the markings of one of the best of all time. However, a motorcycle accident in 2004 meant that Mir had to let go of his Heavyweight title in the UFC and lose out 2 of his prime years. Arguably, the American Jiu-Jitsu specialist was well capable of being higher on this list if not for his misfortunes.
Despite his setbacks, Mir’s legacy includes wins over, Tim Sylvia, Brock Lesnar, Mirko Filipovic, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (twice). Hence, Mir takes a place on our list by way of what he achieved and what more he was capable of achieving.
#7. Mirko Filipovic
Mirko Filipovic, better known as Mirko Cro Cop is one of the most iconic and legendary Heavyweight fighters. Mirko is famously remembered for his deadly kicks and his runs in K-1, RIZIN, Bellator, Pride FC, and the UFC. Some of Mirko’s most notable wins have come against Wanderlei Silva, Mark Coleman, Kazushi Sakuraba, and Satoshi Ishii.
Notable achievements of Mirko Cro Cop include the 2006 Pride FC Openweight Grand Prix, K-1 2012 Grand Prix, and the 2016 RIZIN Openweight Grand Prix. Fans often remember Mirko with the infamous catchphrase: “right leg, hospital; left leg, cemetery”.
#6. Randy Couture
Randy Couture is one of the famous UFC Superstars. Although he was a champion at Light Heavyweight, the majority of his career came in the Heavyweight division. Although he never had the best record, he is still a five-time UFC Champion. Some of Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture’s biggest wins include Vitor Belfort, Pedro Rizzo, Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, and Tim Sylvia.
Randy’s notable achievements include UFC 13 Tournament Winner, Three-time UFC Heavyweight Champion, and two-time UFC Light Heavyweight champion.
#5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, also known as ‘Big Nog’ was one of the most complete heavyweight fighters of his era. A master of Jiu-Jitsu and a threat in a firefight, Nogueira is one of only three fighters to hold belts in both Pride FC and the UFC. Nicknamed Minotauro, Noguiera holds victories over a host of former champions like Dan Henderson, Mirko Cro Cop, Fabricio Werdum, and Randy Couture.
Some of the Nog’s most notable achievements include 2000 Kings of Kings Winner, First Pride FC Heavyweight Champion, and Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion. Although Nogueira, just like many heavyweights before him, went through a rough patch towards the end of his career, his legacy is still intact as one of the greatest.
#4. Cain Velasquez
Another one of MMA’s biggest what if’s, Cain Velasquez found his career severely affected by injuries. Arguably one of the best heavyweights to ever compete, Cain’s career, however, is one of the shortest among his peers. With continuous injuries hampering his progress, it is understandable why Velasquez called time on his career so early.
Some of Velasquez’s most memorable wins were against Brock Lesnar, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Junior Dos Santos, and Antonio Silva. Despite his miserable luck with injuries, Velasquez was a dominant, two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion.
#3. Fabricio Werdum
Famously known for being the man to break Fedor Emelianenko’s win streak, Fabricio Werdum had a habit of pulling off big upsets. Some of his famous victories include Cain Velasquez, Alistair Overeem, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Moreover, he notoriously knocked out the knockout specialist, Mark Hunt to become the interim UFC Heavyweight champion.
Later on, Fabricio unified the title by beating Cain Velasquez and becoming the undisputed heavyweight champ. Fabricio’s famous victories and feats have earned him the #3 spot on our list.
#2. Stipe Miocic
Also known as the Heavyweight GOAT by some, Stipe Miocic is the most accomplished heavyweight in the UFC. To date, he has the most wins in a heavyweight title fight (6) along with the longest streak as champion. His insane resume includes victories over Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos, Francis Ngannou, and Daniel Cormier.
Recently, Stipe lost his title to Francis Ngannou at UFC 260 but is still active and will be returning for another run at the title and Ngannou for the trilogy. Despite the setback, he will always be one of the greatest to ever do it.
#1. Fedor Emelianenko
The only fighter on this list to never set foot in the Octagon is also our #1 pick, Fedor Emelianenko. Fedor’s nine-year unbeaten streak with 27 consecutive wins is one of the most legendary records in MMA History. “The Last Emperor” has an unbelievable resume with wins over the likes of Mirko Cro Cop, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (twice), Mark Coleman (twice), Kevin Randleman, Mark Hunt, Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski and Frank Mir.
Some of Fedor’s biggest achievements include Rings 2001 Openweight Title and Absolute Class Winner, and Pride Heavyweight Champion. One of the most determined, all-round fighters, Fedor is a fan favorite and an inspiration for all up-and-coming fighters. Hence, Fedor is our #1 Heavyweight Champion in MMA History.
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