In an earlier article I went through the history of the UFC Heavyweight Title. Now that we got that covered I thought we should move on to the UFC Light Heavyweight Title.
Ultimate Ultimate 96 Frank Shamrock def. Kevin Jackson
The Light Heavyweight Title was originally the UFC Middleweight Title. The first title match was scheduled for Japan so the UFC wanted Enson Inoue to fight in front of his home country. Unfortunately Frank Shamrock had other plans and knocked out Inoue to earn the title shot against Kevin Jackson instead. Shamrock made Jackson tap out in just 22 seconds via an armbar. After a few title defenses against Igor Zinoviev, John Lober and Tito Ortiz, Frank Shamrock retired from the UFC and relinquished the title.
UFC 25 Tito Ortiz def. Wanderlei Silva
After Shamrock retired and dropped the title the UFC made some changes to their weight divisions and the UFC Middleweight Title became the UFC Light Heavyweight Title. Tito Ortiz and Wanderlei Silva were chosen as the two top contenders. Tito Ortiz would win by a unanimous decision. Tito Ortiz would go on to successfully defend his title against Yuki Kondo, Evan Tanner, Elvis Sinosic, Vladimir Matyushenko, and Ken Shamrock.
Chuck Liddell was a rising star in the UFC and #1 contender for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title. Tito Ortiz then decided to take a hiatus from title defenses and would not sign a contract to fight Chuck Liddell. The UFC management was fed up with Tito Ortiz so they created an Interim Light Heavyweight Title.
UFC 43 Randy Couture def. Chuck Liddell
Randy Couture had suffered two straight losses in the Heavyweight division so he decided to move down o the Light Heavyweight Division. UFC management decided since Randy Couture was a former Heavyweight Champion that Couture vs. #1 contender Chuck Liddell would be a great money match for the Interim Light Heavyweight Title. Randy Couture defeated Chuck Liddell in the third round and became the first UFC fighter to win a title in two different weight divisions.
UFC 46 Vitor Belfort def. Randy Couture
Previously Vitor Belfort had lost to Randy Couture and was given a rematch once Couture won the Light Heavyweight Title. During the match Belfort’s glove cut Courture’s eyelid. The referee was forced to stop the match because of blood and awarded Vitor Belfort the match.
UFC 49 Randy Couture def. Vitor Belfort
Since Belfort’s win over Randy Couture was a bit controversial Couture was awarded a rematch. This time around it was Vitor Belfort who got cut open and lost due to a referee stoppage.
UFC 52 Chuck Liddell def. Randy Couture
Eventually Chuck Liddell would get a rematch of the big Interim Light Heavyweight Title match against Randy Couture. This time around Chuck Liddell would knock out Randy Couture, the first knockout loss of Randy Couture’s career. Since then Chuck Liddell has been on an amazing tear. Chuck Liddell’s first defense of the UFC Light Heavyweight Title was against Jeremy Horn, one of only three fighters to ever beat Chuck Liddell. After that Chuck Liddell won the rubber match against Randy Couture, defeated Renato Sobral, and then won the long awaited match against Tito Ortiz. Chuck Liddell has now defeated two out of the three men that have previously defeated him, Randy Couture and Jeremy Horn. The only fighter that Chuck Liddell has left to avenge is Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Chuck Liddell will fight “Rampage” this Saturday at UFC 71.