The lineal champion, Antonio Silva - USA TODAY Sports
At UFC 156, Antonio Silva knocked out Alistair Overeem, earning himself a big boost up the UFC Heavyweight ranks. It also earned him a unique title - lineal champion of MMA.
When Antonio Silva knocked out Alistair Overeem at UFC 156 this past weekend, he made a huge impact on the UFC Heavyweight division. A planned Overeem vs. Cain Velasquez title fight is out, Overeem's entire Heavyweight run is called into question, and Bigfoot shows that maybe he really is a contender. But for some fans, the biggest fallout from this fight is something you're not likely to hear Dana White talking about.
Antonio Bigfoot Silva is now the true lineal champion in MMA.
The idea of a lineal belt has long intrigued some fans. The idea behind the lineal title is, to quote Ric Flair, "to be the man, you got to beat the man." Namely, the true lineal champ is the man who defeated the last lineal champ - weight classes, promotions and the like are irrelevant. And based on that history, the belt now sits around the waist of Bigfoot.
Here's a quick look at the history of the lineal title and how it got to Silva:
In the early days of MMA, there is some debate over how the lineal title started. I would argue it begins at UFC 1 with Royce Gracie. From there, Gracie holds on to the belt through the Pride GP where he loses it to Kazushi Sakuraba. In the course of that GP, it moves from Gracie to Sakuraba to Igor Vovchanchyn to Mark Coleman. Coleman lost it to Minotauro Nogueira, and Nog lost it to Fedor Emelianenko. And for years, Fedor was pretty clearly #1. He finally lost that status to Fabricio Werdum, whose next loss came to Alistair Overeem. Overeem held it until this weekend.
Some prefer to just view it as a Heavyweight title, and in that case, date it from roughly Mark Coleman defeating Dan Severn to become the first UFC Heavyweight champion. If you follow that path, the lineal title stays with the UFC Heavyweight title at first, moving from Coleman to Maurice Smith to Randy Couture. Couture then left the UFC, taking the belt with him. He lost to Enson Inoue, who was entered in the Pride GP, where the belt passed through the hands of Mark Kerr and Kazuyuki Fujita en route to Coleman. From there, it's on to Fedor and, eventually, Silva.
One interesting aspect of this is that, no matter how you look at it, the lineal champion has not been the UFC Heavyweight champion in over 15 years. I don't see Silva vs. Velasquez II happening any time soon, but with the champ now in the UFC, it's likely only a matter of time before the belt is re-unified with the UFC Heavyweight crown.
And so, a big congratulations to Antonio Bigfoot Silva - the true champion of all MMA.