10 best interim UFC champions, ranked

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Being an interim UFC champion is hard work. While you can officially be recognized as a champion and get a nice pay raise, many fans will not see you as a true champion and nothing more than a placeholder until the true division champion returns. to the competition.

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However, this is not a fair review. Many of the future and current members of the MMA Sports Hall of Fame were interim champions, and while some of them may never have secured the undisputed title, they have been champions on vacation and for a while. short time were the best active fighters in their weight class. .


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Renan barao

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Nowadays, we mostly talk about Renan Barao for his historic accident and burn after losing his bantamweight championship, dropping from 2 to 7 after his loss to TJDillashaw to UFC 173. However, his rise to champion is worth admiring.

Barao was 28-1 when he had his chance to win interim gold against Urijah Faber while Dominick Cruz was on the set. Barao beat Faber to win the interim belt and quickly secured back-to-back title defenses against Eddie Wineland and Michael McDonald before being promoted to undisputed champion.

9
Robert whittaker

Robert Whittaker UFC 213

Robert Whittaker’s interim victory was one for the history books. Facing Yoel Romero at UFC 213 As an underdog, many simply thought the fight was just a formality for Romero to win so he could stage a grudge match with then-injured middleweight champion Michael Bisping.

Whittaker turned the tables on the pair, beating Romero despite a leg injury. In a strange turn of events, Bisping lost his middleweight championship to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217, but St-Pierre dropped the belt a month later due to medical issues, and Whittaker was promoted to undisputed champion although he never unified the belt.

8
Frank Mir

Frank Mir UFC 146

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Frank Mir is considered one of the greatest heavyweights of all time and for good reason. So when he got the call to face Antonio Nogueira at UFC 92 for the interim championship due to Brock Lesnar’s health issues, he didn’t flinch.

Mir won Nogueira’s interim strap at the event and set up a rematch with Lesnar for the undisputed title. Unfortunately for Mir, the unification fight did not go well as he was dominated and knocked out in the second round to UFC 100.

7
Dustin Poirier

Dustin Poirier UFC 264

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Dustin Poirier’s run for the interim title has been extremely short, but deserves to be noted. UFC 236‘The original plan was to have an interim title fight between Tony Ferguson and featherweight champion Max Holloway, due to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s suspension for his role in the UFC 229 fight. However, Ferguson declined the fight and so Poirier got the call.

Poirier defeated Holloway in a back-and-forth slugfest and became interim UFC lightweight champion. While he lost his unification fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov in UFC 242, he will get another chance to become champion later this year against Charles Oliviera.

6
Tony Ferguson

Tony Ferguson UFC 263

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Ferguson’s dominance in the lightweight from 2013-2020 was nothing short of amazing, winning 12 fights in a row and winning an interim championship in the process. Ferguson’s interim title came while Conor McGregor was on the shelf due to his hundred million dollar dance with Floyd Mayweather in 2017, and as a result, Ferguson was paired with Kevin Lee at UFC 216.

Ferguson beat Lee at UFC 216 to win the interim championship, and while he would later be stripped of the title due to injury, you cannot take his name from the champions’ history books.

5
Max Holloway

Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis UFC 206

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Max Holloway is one of the greatest interim champions of all time, but he’s also only an interim champion due to an odd set of clauses. UFC 206 Originally was to have Holloway against former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis in a title eliminator fight. However, following the downfall of headliner Daniel Cormier, Holloway and Pettis were pushed back to the main event and had a provisional championship on the line.

The weird part was that there was already an interim champion. Jose Aldo had just won the interim title at UFC 200 and was supposed to fight Conor McGregor in a rematch, but McGregor refused and as a result Aldo was promoted to interim champion, then Holloway’s winner over Pettis would be interim champion. In the end, Holloway dominated Pettis to win the strap, then quickly dominated Aldo to unify the titles.

4
Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor UFC 194

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Conor McGregor’s fight against Jose Aldo at UFC 189 had to be a battle for the featherweight championship. However, once Aldo fell due to injury a few weeks later, Chad Mendes stepped in and the UFC threw a provisional title on the line.

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McGregor won the fight by knockout and became a star in the process. He then unified the title months later to UFC 194, eliminating Aldo in 13 seconds and consolidating his place among the great featherweights of the sport.

3
Randy Couture

Randy Couture UFC 68 Presser

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Randy Couture’s debut as a light heavyweight at UFC 43 against Chuck Liddell had an interim title on the line, as champion Tito Ortiz was on the shelf. Couture had just suffered back-to-back defeats, but was still considered one of the greatest fighters on the planet.

Couture proved it too, dominating and finishing Liddell in the third round. Couture became the very first UFC fighter to win a title in two different weight classes and then defeated Ortiz to unify the championships.

2
Georges st-pierre

10 best performances of Georges St-Pierre's career, ranked

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Georges St-Pierre in April 2007 had lost his welterweight championship to Matt Serra and sort of ended the year with gold around his waist. St-Pierre defeated Josh Koscheck, before being paired with former rival Matt Hughes at UFC 79 for an interim title fight due to Serra’s absence due to injury.

RELATED: 10 Best Performances of Georges St-Pierre’s Career, Ranked

In the end, St-Pierre beat Hughes to win their trilogy and the interim title. He then beat Matt Serra a few months later to unify the titles.

1
Jon jones

Jon Jones UFC 140

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Jones is arguably the greatest fighter of all time, but his run for the interim title was just plain weird. Jones was set to face Daniel Cormier in a rematch at UFC 197. Jones had beaten Cormier once before, but was stripped of his title in 2015 due to issues with the law, and Cormier won the lightweight strap in the meantime. However, Cormier gave up, and Ovince Saint Preux stepped in and an interim belt was put on the line.

Jones beat Saint Preux but was stripped of the acting light-heavyweight strap a few months later due to a failed drug test. Which officially makes him the first fighter to be stripped of a belt twice.


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