UFC

Recent UFC title changes are good and bad for the sport

UFC announcer Joe Rogan joked during UFC 201 that “no one is safe” prior to the main event, in which Tyron Woodley knocked out Robbie Lawler in the first round to capture the UFC Welterweight Championship Saturday night. Rogan was referring to the fact that there has been several UFC title changes lately.

Ten title changes in the last nine months, to be exact.

  • UFC 193: Nov. 15, 2015, Holly Holm d. Ronda Rousey – Women’s Bantamweight
  • UFC 194: Dec. 12, 2015, Luke Rockhold d. Chris Weidman – Middleweight
  • UFC 194: Dec. 12, 2015, Conor McGregor d. Jose Aldo – Featherweight
  • UFC FN: Jan. 17, 2016, Dominick Cruz d. TJ Dillashaw – Bantamweight
  • UFC 196: March 5, 2016, Miesha Tate d. Holly Holm – Women’s Bantamweight
  • UFC 198: May 15, 2016, Stipe Miocic d. Fabrico Werdum – Heavyweight
  • UFC 199: June 4, 2016, Michael Bisping d. Luke Rockhold – Middleweight
  • UFC FN: July 7, 2016, Eddie Alvarez d. Rafael dos Anjos – Lightweight
  • UFC 200: July 9, 2016, Amanda Nunes d. Miesha Tate – Women’s Bantamweight
  • UFC 201: July 30, 2016, Tyron Woodley d. Robbie Lawler – Welterweight

Although Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor still has his title, he did lose when he moved up two weight classes and fell to Nate Diaz at UFC 196. And Jon Jones, who is still listed as the Light Heavyweight Interim Champion on the UFC’s rankings page, recently tested positive for estrogen blockers and was removed from UFC 200.

Ronda Rousey, McGregor and Jones are arguably the top three stars in the UFC right now. However, Rousey has stepped away from the octagon since her loss. McGregor lost to Diaz in March. That leaves Jones as the only one out of the three who has been victorious in 2016, but his recent troubles may keep him sidelined again.

Bottom line: it is a crazy time for the UFC and titleholders must work extra hard to retain their belts.

Among the 10 current titleholders, Daniel Cormier, Dominick Cruz, Demetrious Johnson and Joanna Jedrezejczyk are the only active champions who each have at least one successful title defense.

We love surprises and upsets in sports. Parity is a popular subject in the NFL. People go crazy over upsets in the NCAA tournament.

Although the UFC has grown drastically the last couple of years, the myriad total of recent title changes will keep current fans excited about what’s to come while also attracting new fans to the sport.

But the countless number of title changes must end before it becomes excessive. The UFC needs multiple dominant champions. Fighters like Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz had long successful title reigns that helped the UFC grow. More recently, Jones and Rousey remained on top of their respective divisions and made names for themselves.

Sep 5, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC president Dana White puts the championship belt on Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) after defeating John Dodson (blue gloves) in the flyweight title bout at UFC 191 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Johnson won the fight. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY

Sep 5, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC president Dana White puts the championship belt on Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) after defeating John Dodson (blue gloves) in the flyweight title bout at UFC 191 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Johnson won the fight. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY

Johnson is the only current champion who fits the bill as he has held the Flyweight Championship for a significantly long time with eight successful defenses. It would help the UFC if a couple of more fighters rise to the occasion with long title reigns.

Maybe those fighters are current champions. But the UFC needs a couple of dominant champions with long title reigns to help make the sport intriguing,

By the time those dominant fighters fall, it will become a big story, similar to when Holm did the impossible and defeated Rousey back in November.

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