Stipe Miocic might be on the verge of becoming the greatest heavyweight champion in the history of the UFC. Now, while it should go without saying that the greatest heavyweight in the history of mixed martial arts is Fedor Emelianenko. After all, the former PRIDE heavyweight champion has wins over the likes of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman, Mirko Filipovic, Mark Hunt, Tim Sylvia, and Andrei Arlovski. But unfortunately, Emelianenko has never fought in the UFC, so the debate of who the greatest UFC heavyweight champion in history is still up for debate.
If he was able to stay healthy for a prolonged period of time, I’d actually say that Cain Velasquez is the best heavyweight champion in the history of the UFC. At his peak and when he’s healthy, Velasquez is an absolute beast. But he’s won and lost the UFC heavyweight title twice. He won it by beating Brock Lesnar, lost it to Junior dos Santos in his first title defense, won the belt back from dos Santos a year later, defended it against Antonio Silva, defended it against dos Santos, and then lost it to Fabricio Werdum. All in all, he’s 4-2 in title fights with 2 successful defenses. But unfortunately, he’s pretty injury prone.
But let’s take a look at the current champion, Stipe Miocic. Miocic has a record of 16-2. He won the title last year on May 14, 2016 with a first round knockout of Fabricio Werdum. He proceeded to successfully defend the title back in September against Alistair Overeem. With a successful title defense over Junior dos Santos on Saturday night, he suddenly ties the record (held by Randy Couture, Tim Sylvia, Brock Lesnar, and Velasquez) for most title consecutive title defenses in the UFC’s heavyweight division at….2.
There’s never been a dominant long-term champion in the UFC’s heavyweight division. With a win, and a decisive win at that, over Junior dos Santos, I think that Miocic makes a great argument for being the best UFC heavyweight champion in the promotion’s history. In my opinion, he’ll have beaten arguably better competition than Randy Couture did (when he beat Pedro Rizzo twice), or Tim Sylvia did (wins over Andrei Arlovski and Jeff Monson) during their “long” title reigns. But I think you can make the argument that Lesnar and Velasquez’s competitors were of equal or greater talent than Overeem and dos Santos (Lesnar beat Frank Mir and Shane Carwin; Velasquez beat Antonio Silva and dos Santos)
In heavyweight title fights, Randy Couture has the most wins with 6. But he’s 6-3 in heavyweight title fights. A win over dos Santos makes Miocic 3-0. The only other fighters to go undefeated in UFC heavyweight title fights are Bas Rutten and Josh Barnett, who lost the title due to retirement (Rutten) and a positive drug test (Barnett). After those two, Brock Lesnar has the best winning percentage in UFC heavyweight title fights at 3-1 (.750).
While I know it might be an unpopular opinion, I think that Lesnar, Velasquez, Couture and Miocic might be the four best heavyweight champions in the UFC’s history. If Miocic wins against dos Santos, and then proceeds to knock off another top contender (maybe Velasquez if/when he’s healthy?) then I think that ends the discussion and Stipe Miocic should then be considered the greatest heavyweight champion in the UFC’s history.