In 1993, when the UFC was founded, mixed martial arts was not sanctioned in the United States, nor did weight classes exist. Instead of championships, the UFC held tournaments with winners receiving a permanent title.
In response to criticism from Senator John McCain that led to the loss of its television deal and the banning of the sport in 36 states, the UFC increased its cooperation with state athletic commissions and introduced weight classes, starting with UFC 12, and began introducing weight-specific titles in 1997.
In the original codification for weight classes, there were only two categories: heavyweight, which included all competitors over 200 pounds (91 kg), and lightweight, which included all competitors under 199 pounds (90 kg).
5. Kamarudeen Usman
The Nigerian-American Karudeen Usman (born May 11, 1987) is a professional mixed martial artist, a former freestyle wrestler, as well as a retired folkstyle wrestler. In addition to being the former UFC Welterweight Champion, he was also the champion of The Ultimate Fighter 21 tournament. On November 14, 2022, he was ranked #1 in UFC men’s welterweight and #4 in UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings.
4. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Khabib Abdulmanapovich Nurmagomedov (born 20 September 1988) is a Russian retired professional mixed martial artist who holds the distinction of being the longest-reigning UFC Lightweight Champion in history, having held onto the title from April 2018 to March 2021. Not only did he retire with an impressive undefeated record of 29 wins and no losses, but he is also widely regarded as one of the greatest fighters of all time, earning him a place in the UFC Hall of Fame on June 30, 2022.
3. Stipe Miocic
A former two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion, Sktipe Miocic (born August 19, 1982) is an American mixed martial artist. He competes in the Heavyweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). According to critics, commentators, and the media, Miocic is the greatest UFC heavyweight fighter of all time. He is ranked #2 in the UFC heavyweight rankings as of August 9, 2021.
2. Israel Adesanya
Adesanya (born 22 July 1989) is a professional mixed martial artist, kickboxer, and former boxer from New Zealand.
As a mixed martial artist, he competes in the Middleweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he is a former Middleweight Champion. In kickboxing, he is the former Glory Middleweight Champion challenger.
On November 14, 2022, he was ranked #1 in the UFC middleweight rankings, and on January 17, 2023, he ranked #5 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings.
1. Aljamain Antoine Sterling
A Jamaican-American mixed martial artist, Aljamain Antoine Sterling (born July 31, 1989) competes in the Bantamweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
The former Cage Fury Fighting Championship Bantamweight Champion is #7 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings as of February 7, 2023.