5 interim UFC champions who never unified their titles
The concept of an interim UFC championship is pretty straightforward: in the absence of an undisputed champion, a temporary defending champion is brought in to keep the action going in the division.
While some interim champions of the past have been questionable, the crowning glory still stands on numerous occasions. However, not all interim UFC title holders get the chance to unify the two belts.
Here are five interim UFC champions who have never unified their titles:
# 5 Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – Former interim UFC heavyweight champion
Antonio ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira, aka Big Nog, is among the club’s elite fighters to have won titles in PRIDE and the UFC. What Nogueira has failed to accomplish throughout his illustrious career is to become an undisputed UFC champion.
In 2007, UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture announced he was severing ties with the promotion over a salary dispute and a legal battle ensued. In his absence, Nogueira fought Tim Sylvia for the UFC interim belt. The Brazilian went on to win the interim UFC crown, subjecting ‘The Maine-iac’ to the third round via a guillotine choke.
In a bizarre turn of events, Couture put the undisputed title on the line against Brock Lesnar at UFC 91 after his legal dispute with the company ended. That night, Couture lost the title after being outscored by Lesnar.
Meanwhile, Nogueira defended her strap against rival TUF (The Ultimate Fighter) coach Frank Mir at UFC 92. Sadly, Nogueira lost the title to Mir and never got her championship unification.
# 4 Renan Barao – Former interim UFC bantamweight champion
Blood rivals Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber were set to settle their feud in a championship fight at UFC 148. Sadly, bantamweight champion Cruz was forced out of the fight after suffering a tear in the chest. ACL.
In Cruz’s absence, Renan Barao stepped in to fight Faber for the interim UFC bantamweight title. The Brazilian would shock the world by outclassing ‘The California Kid’ in five rounds before becoming the temporary champion.
As Cruz recovered, Barao defended his interim UFC title twice, staging a unification fight with “ The Dominator ” at UFC 169. Fate had other plans, however, after Cruz broke up. either torn in the groin just a month before the pay-per-view event. .
After three years of inactivity, the UFC finally stripped Cruz of his title and promoted Barao to the undisputed bantamweight champion. Renan Barao never had the chance to unify the two belts, although he probably didn’t care how events turned out.
# 3 Colby Covington – Former interim UFC welterweight champion
In 2017, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley was sidelined after tearing a labrum in his right shoulder during his title defense against Demian Maia.
As Woodley heals his injury, the UFC has booked an interim welterweight title fight between Colby Covington and Rafael dos Anjos. “ Chaos ” convincingly defeated dos Anjos to win the interim UFC title, setting up a unification fight with Woodley.
But Covington needed some time to recover from nasal surgery after the bout with dos Anjos. However, the UFC makers didn’t want to wait for Covington to recover, so they staged a title fight between Woodley and Darren Till.
After Woodley retained his belt, it made sense for interim UFC defending champion Covington to challenge the undisputed champion to a unification fight. However, Kamaru Usman was given the opportunity instead.
Years later, Covington finally secured his undisputed title against new champion Usman, but failed to claim the crown.
# 2 Jose Aldo – Former interim UFC featherweight champion
After spending four years at the top of the featherweight division, Jose Aldo was unceremoniously dethroned by Conor McGregor in 13 seconds.
The next logical step for the Irishman was to defend his newly won title against Frankie Edgar, who saw a resurgence in his career in 2016. However, ‘Notorious’ opted to pursue more accolades, moving to the lightweight division. of the UFC to look for a second strap.
Meanwhile, an opportunity opened up for Aldo as he was booked to fight number one contender Edgar for the UFC interim featherweight title at UFC 200. Come fight the night, Aldo did. silence his skeptics when he took back gold in the UFC by beating the New Jersey native unanimously. decision.
McGregor teased a much-anticipated rematch against Aldo as he watched the Brazilian become the interim 145-pound champion. However, McGregor would never return to featherweight.
Aldo’s belt was later upgraded to the undisputed title, but he never got his revenge against the Irish megastar.
# 1 Tony Ferguson – Former interim UFC lightweight champion
Tony Ferguson has never managed to win the undisputed title despite the longest winning streak in UFC lightweight history.
Once it became apparent that then-lightweight champion McGregor wasn’t too excited to return to the Octagon, the UFC turned to Ferguson and Kevin Lee for an interim UFC title showdown. ‘El Cucuy’ finally got his hands on gold in the UFC when he escaped the jaws of defeat and won a submission victory over Lee.
While McGregor still didn’t want to return to the UFC, Ferguson had to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov with the undisputed lightweight title on the line. Sadly, Ferguson injured his knee after tripping over a media cable just a week before the scheduled main event fight.
âEl Cucuyâ was stripped of his belt for apparently no fault of his own. Khabib Nurmagomedov then dominated replacement fighter Al Iaquinta to win the undisputed UFC lightweight title.
It was an unfortunate turn of events for Tony Ferguson, and based on his recent performances, he’s unlikely to come close to the title image once again.