In sports, no matter what sport it may be, the goal is always to be the best or to be a champion. In mixed martial arts (MMA), the pinnacle is the UFC championship, something every fighter dreams of calling their own.

Since the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was founded in 1993, the promotion has expanded and grown exponentially, now having 10 different weight divisions, and obviously 10 current champions, but there have been many champions throughout the promotions history. Some have had better success than others, and without further ado, here is LowKickMMA’s top 10 UFC champions:

royce gracie10. Royce Gracie

Royce Gracie is unique because he never actually held a UFC belt, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a champion, as he was actually the original UFC champion. A God father of mixed martial arts, Gracie changed the game with his family’s jiu-jitsu, winning three out of the first four UFC tournaments.

The winner of UFC Tournaments one, two, and four, Gracie is the first ever tournament champion in UFC history, and owns the most tournament champion wins in UFC history. Although he may have done it in a different way, Gracie is undoubtedly a champion, and one of the best in UFC history.

tito ortiz9. Tito Ortiz

The “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz is one of the most polarizing figures in UFC history with his brash personality earning him a spot on our Top Trash Talkers List, but he was also able to back it up in the cage as one of the best light heavyweight champions in UFC history.

Ortiz owns the second-most title defenses in 205-pound history with five, which is actually more than our next fighter, but I felt as if Ortiz’s competition during his title reign wasn’t as stiff. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” owns title defenses or wins over Wanderlei Silva, Yuki Kondo, Evan Tanner, Vladimir Matyushenko, and Ken Shamrock.

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chuck liddell8. Chuck Liddell

Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell is one of the biggest stars in UFC history, and also one of the best light heavyweight champions of all-time. Liddell is tied for the third most title defenses in 205-pound history with four including defenses over Jeremy Horn, Randy Couture, Renato Sobral, and Tito Ortiz.

With a right hand made of iron, “The Iceman” owns the record for most knockouts in UFC history, as well as the most consecutive knockouts in UFC history, earning himself a spot on this list.

matt hughes7. Matt Hughes

Matt Hughes is one of the greatest welterweights of all time, one of the greatest fighters of all time, and was long considered to be the best welterweight champion of all time before a man a bit higher on this list came around. Hughes is a two-time welterweight champion, and also owns the second-most title defenses in welterweight history with seven.

With wins over Carlos Newton, Sean Sherk, Royce Gracie, Georges St. Pierre, BJ Penn, Frank Trigg twice, and Matt Serra, Hughes reigned over the 170-pound division for quite some time, and is well deserving of a spot on this list.

randy couture6. Randy Couture

Randy Couture is actually a five-time UFC champion which is a company record as he was a three-time UFC heavyweight champion as well as a two-time UFC light heavyweight champion. “The Natural” is tied for the most UFC heavyweight title defenses with three and also owns the record for most championship fights in the UFC with 15.

Couture was able to topple a who’s who of MMA fighters including Chuck Liddell, Vitor Belfort twice, Tito Ortiz, Kevin Randleman, and Tim Sylvia, is also the oldest fighter to ever win a UFC title, proving that he was a natural champion.

bj penn arrested5. BJ Penn

BJ “The Prodigy” Penn is a very unique fighter on this list as he is one of only two men to ever hold a UFC title in two different weight classes, reigning as both the UFC lightweight champion, and the UFC welterweight champion on different occasions. He earned his first title, the welterweight title, at UFC 46, submitting one of the greatest 170-pounders of all-time in Matt Hughes.

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Although he would later be stripped of the welterweight title, Penn would go on to claim the lightweight title and tie the division record with three-straight title defenses. He even tried to become the first fighter to hold two belts at one time, but came up short against Georges St. Pierre.

Owning wins over Hughes twice, Sean Sherk, Jens Pulver, Matt Serra, and Kenny Florian, “The Prodigy” is one of the best to ever sport UFC gold.

jose aldo4. Jose Aldo

As the only featherweight champion in the history of the UFC, Jose Aldo has constructed a reign of dominance over the 145-pound division. Since the creation of the division in 2011, Aldo has dispatched contenders left and right, including Chad Mendes twice, Kenny Florian, and former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.

Currently on an ultra-impressive 18-fight win streak, “Scarface” has defended his featherweight title a division record seven times, and is one of the most dominant fighters in recent memory, landing himself at No. 4 on this list.

MMA: UFC 154-St-Pierre vs Condit3. Georges St. Pierre

Georges “Rush” St. Pierre is one of the best champions the UFC has ever seen, and undoubtedly the greatest welterweight champion in the history of mixed martial arts (MMA). GSP is actually a two time welterweight champion, owning the most wins in UFC title fights, the second most consecutive title defenses in UFC history with nine, the most consecutive title defenses in welterweight history, and the most wins in UFC history with 19.

Owning wins over legends such as Matt Hughes, BJ Penn, Sean Sherk, and Frank Trigg, as well as wins over Josh Koscheck, Matt Serra, Carlos Condit, and Johny Hendricks, “Rush” is one of the best the sport’s ever seen. He also managed to end his career on top as the champion with 12 straight wins, earning himself a spot on this list.

anderson silva 12. Anderson Silva

Although he is now being surrounded by drug test drama, Anderson “The Spider” Silva is one of the greatest fighters to ever compete in mixed martial arts (MMA). He was long considered to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and the greatest champion, and some may even still put him as No. 1.

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Owning a record 10 straight title defenses, Silva ruled the middleweight division for years with brutal wins over Rich Franklin, Vitor Belfort, and a legendary come from behind victory over Chael Sonnen that will be remembered forever. What “The Spider” did inside of the Octagon will never be forgotten, but he has been criticized for not facing the toughest of competition and that’s the only reason he falls behind….

dana white1. Jon Jones

Now some may argue that Jon Jones is not what a champion should be. The former 205-pound kingpin has arguably tarnished his reputation after testing positive for cocaine metabolites in January and getting arrested on felony charges for allegedly fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run accident in April, leading the UFC to strip him of his long-held title.

However, that’s not what we’re looking at here, and when you look at in-cage accomplishments, “Bones” is arguably the greatest fighter and most definitely the greatest champion to ever grace the Octagon. Anderson Silva (No. 2 on this list) indeed owns the most consecutive title defenses with 10 as opposed to Jones’ 8, but “Bones” does hold the record for the most consecutive light heavyweight title defenses, and he did it against much stiffer competition than anyone else on this list.

He took out a legend in Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to earn the title in 2011, and took out a murderer’s row of contenders during his illustrious reign as champion. Jones was able to dispatch four former champions in the form of Lyoto Machida, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Rashad Evans, and Vitor Belfort, as well as Alexander Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira, and former Olympian Daniel Cormier. Besides his bout with Gustafsson, Jones made most of these victories look easy and for that reason he finds himself as the best champion in UFC history.

Sports media and journalism student watching from the East Coast. I'm a young writer with a passion for mixed martial arts looking to make my mark as a journalist. Email: [email protected]