No argument: Only one UFC middleweight champ can be the GOAT

Bloody Elbow's Case Hart has dived into the history of the UFC middleweight division to determine the GOAT.

By: Case Harts | 2 months ago

What do you know about the UFC middleweight division? Well, I sat down and looked at a ton of spreadsheets and data analytics so I can tell you all about it.

The middleweight title timeline, from Menne to Adesanya

The UFC middleweight division started with David Menne winning the inaugural belt against Gil Castillo at UFC 33 in 2001. Next, we have Brazilian Murilo Bustamante, who would defend his belt one time before heading off to Pride. In 2005, Evan Tanner would enter the fold, becoming the next UFC middleweight champion, then we’d have Rich Franklin for a few defenses, and then the legend that is Anderson Silva, who would defend his belt 10 times would become champion.

Following in nearly a decade later would be Chris Weidman, defeating him by KO. He would defend his belt a few times, including a rematch against Anderson Silva. Then he would lose to Luke Rockhold, then he would lose to Michael Bisping, then he would lose to Georges St. Pierre. Then, in what was one of the shortest title defenses in history with 33 days, GSP would relinquish his title. Robert Whittaker would eventually ascend to the title next, and following him would be Israel Adesanya, defeating him by KO; he would stay champion until he lost to his rival Alex Pereira, whom he just won the belt back against recently.

That was a speedrun of the UFC middleweight division’s 22-year-old history. We’re gonna get into a lot more detail but you need this basic structure for us to carry on to the rest of this. In the comments below, let us know who your favorite middleweight champion of all time is, and what your favorite title fight in the middleweight division history ever was.

Countries with UFC middleweight titles & champs

Now for some trivia. How many countries do you think have actually held a UFC title in the middleweight division?

The answer’s six: The United States, Brazil, Canada, England, Australia and then both New Zealand and Nigeria, due to Israel Adesanya.

Which country do you think had the most middleweight champions in history?

If your answer was the United States, you’d be right. The United States was first with five champions, those champions being David Menne, Evan Tanner, Rich Franklin, Chris Weidman, and Luke Rockhold. Second is Brazil, with three champions. Do you know who those are?

First, there was Murilo Bustamante, then it was Anderson Silva, and more recently, we had Alex Pereira. The other four countries with middleweight titles only have one champion each. From England, Michael Bisping. From Canada, Georges St-Pierre and from Australia, Robert Whittaker. Lastly, representing both Nigeria and New Zealand, we have Israel Adesanya.

Nations by numbers: Most total days as middleweight champ

Which nationality here do you think has the most total days as champion, including all the champions from said country?

The answer is Brazil. For all the Brazilian champions combined, There’s a total of 2,871 days with a Brazilian fighter holding the middleweight title. That’s over a thousand days more than second place. Can you guess who that is?

It’s the United States of America. The US has 1,785 days total where a champion of that nationality held the title. The next two countries that have the most days as champion are New Zealand & Nigeria with 1,249, due to Israel Adesanya. But he’s currently the champion, and his days as champion will rise until his next fight. And if he wins, it’ll just keep going from there.

The next country down the line is Australia, with Robert Whittaker being the champion for 660 days. Then we have England, whose Michael Bisping held the title for 518 days. Finally, the lowest by far: George St. Pierre’s out-of-retirement fight to defeat Michael Bisping. GSP would relinquish the belt after 33 days.

One middleweight champ stands out by numbers

This one’s not going to be hard. Who do you think has the most days total as champion for an individual fighter? (Here’s a hint: he has 2,457 total days as champion.)

Anderson Silva‘s reign himself is higher than any other country’s total days as champion. That’s how impressive his run was. So how many total title defenses does Anderson Silva have? Leave that in the comments below, and also let us know who the last person was that Anderson Silva defeated as champion.

Tapology ranks him #1 all-time as well.

Countries with the most UFC middleweight title defenses

Which country do you think has the most overall title defenses in UFC middleweight history? And which country was involved in the most total title fights, including as champion, becoming champion, or losing?

The answer to both is Brazil. There have been fifteen middleweight title fights involving Brazilians, and Anderson Silva obviously did a lot to buff up those numbers. Next is America, with ten total title fights. Then it goes to New Zealand and Nigeria, with Israel Adesanya at seven.

After that, it’s England and Australia, who are technically tied. Michael Bisping defended his title against Dan Anderson, but Robert Whittaker got screwed with the way the interim belt works, and the fact that he had an opponent like Joel Romero, who missed weight, made their title fight a non-title bout. Finally, Canada has one title defense, and it’s obviously Georges St-Pierre winning against Michael Bisping.

UFC History: Total middleweight title fights

Before we go on, guess the total number of UFC middleweight title fights in history:

  • A. 29
  • B. 33
  • C. 37
  • D. 42

If you guessed C. 37, you’re right, and Brazilians account for almost half that number at fifteen fights.

The least successful middleweight champion in history is a bit debatable here, but it would have to be David Menne, who lost his title after only 99 days. But GSP relinquished his belt after only 33, so it’s up to interpretation at that point. Weirdly enough, as I mentioned, Robert Whittaker had over 600 days as champion, but he never actually defended the belt because of cancellations, injuries, weight misses, etc., thus causing his title fights to become non-title bouts.

The biggest upsets in UFC middleweight history

This one should be easy for most of you, but which title fight was the biggest upset in UFC middleweight history?

If you guessed Michael Bisping, then you’d be correct. His win over Luke Rockhold had him at over a +500 underdog five-to-one odds, which is by far the biggest upset in UFC middleweight title fight history. Anderson Silva did have light heavyweight fights in his time, and did have an issue where Travis Lutter missed weight, causing their title fight to become a non-title bout, which, if you have never seen the fight and the weigh-in, is probably one of the scariest weight cuts in MMA history, bar none.

After Anderson Silva lost his title fight in the rematch to Chris Weidman, he would only go two and seven in the rest of his MMA UFC career, and even then, one of those wins got overturned due to PEDs from him and his opponent smoking weed. If you guessed that it was Nick Diaz, you’d be right.

So currently, after the Weidman fights, Anderson Silva is 1-7-1. If we don’t include interim title fights, then Israel Adesanya is the only UFC champion in the middleweight division to ever lose his title and then get it back later. That would be when he lost by KO to Alex Pereira, and then recently returned to defeat him by KO.

Every middleweight champ’s reign, by the numbers

Let’s quickly go through how every middleweight champion’s reign ended in the division.

David Menne lost to Murilo Bustamante at UFC 36 by TKO, Evan Tanner lost by TKO to Rich Franklin at UFC 53, and Rich Franklin lost by KO to Anderson Silva at UFC 64.

Anderson Silva lost to Chris Weidman by KO at UFC 162, Weidman lost by TKO to Luke Rockhold at UFC 194, and Robert Whittaker lost to Israel Adesanya by KO at UFC 243. Israel Adesanya lost his belt to Alex Pereira by KO at UFC 281, then Alex Pereira lost his title by KO to Israel Adesanya at UFC 287.

But that’s only accounting for TKO and KOs. For submissions, the only one that exists is GSP’s submission over Michael Bisping. There’s two instances of relinquishing / vacating the belts, too. The first is Murilo Bustamante, who left in the early days to go fight in Pride, and then there’s GSP, who we mentioned had relinquished his belt after 33 days.

The oldest UFC middleweight champs

The last MMA trivia question I have for you is, who were the two oldest middleweight champions in UFC history? I think you’ll be able to guess these, but can you get the order correct?

The second youngest is Anderson Silva; he was 37 years old when he lost his belt. The oldest is Michael Bisping, who was 38 years old when he lost his title to GSP.

That’s a wrap of all the weird research I did about the UFC middleweight division and its history with all the weird data that you could ever want. Let me know in the comments if there’s something else you’d like to see, and tell us what division we should do next.

Thanks for sticking around. I’ll hear from you gigachads next time.

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