It's the most sought after belt in MMA. Yes we're talking UFC gold. Winning it can put you on top of the world, and losing it can bury you as a fighter. Keep in mind that I'm looking at male champions only, and I do not count interim belt holders. Now let's get to the meat and potatoes.
In the history of the UFC there has been forty six different champions in eight weight classes. Out of the forty six warriors that have worn the belt, only five have reclaimed championship status after losing. That's pretty crazy, but even more impressive is it's only happened in three of the eight weight classes. The only reason it's three and not two is because one of the sports greatest did it in two weight classes. Of course there is the fact that the heavyweights have been around a hell of a lot longer than something like flyweight. Enough of my blabbering, it's time to have a look at those who have done it.
We'll start with welterweight. Two different champions have lost their belt, and came back to reclaim gold. The first fighter I want to look at is Matt Hughes. Matt first won the strap at UFC 34. If you haven't seen this fight, I urge you to check it out. Hughes KO slamming Carlos Newton is one of the craziest finishes I've seen.
Matt would go on to defend the title five consecutive times. Then at UFC 46, BJ Penn made him tap due to a rear naked choke.
Penn was later stripped of the title when he signed with K-1. This setting up a match against GSP at UFC 50. A chance for Hughes to become the champion for a second time. Matt was able to slap an armbar on the young french man. GSP would end up tapping with only one second left in the first round. This handing GSP his one and only submission loss in his pro career.
Matt was on top of the welterweight division once again. He would defend his title two more times before GSP took the belt with a TKO victory at UFC 65. There is a reason Matt Hughes is a hall of famer. He would go on to have eight more fights in the UFC, but never got back to championship form. Hughes is retired now, with his last fight back in 2011 at UFC 135.
Coming up in part two of From Red to Blue, we'll have a look at the second welterweight to do it. One that first became champion at UFC 65.