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Former Champs Struggle In Immediate Title Rematches

The lineage of UFC championships is convoluted. From the old days when every other champion seemingly vacated the title to the modern era when the UFC tacks on an interim title every time a PPV needs a few extra buys, following the gold can be an infuriating task. 

However, despite all the title swapping over the 25-year tenure of the UFC, very few fallen champions have garnered immediate title rematches. Six to be exact, as a fighter earning an immediate rematch after dropping the championship is rare with so much turnover among the division’s best.

Before we move on, we need to define “immediate championship rematch.” For these purposes, an “immediate championship rematch” is the very next fight for both participants. That means there was no “tune-up fight” for the loser or a prolonged absence for the former champion while the new champion was defending the gold. I have also chosen to not include interim or vacated titles because I would want to pull my damn hair out if I did.

five former champions earned an immediate title rematch, but only Randy Couture was victorious.

Of those five former champions to earn an immediate championship rematch, only one managed to climb back to the mountaintop. That was Randy Couture, who lost his UFC light heavyweight title to Vitor Belfort at UFC 46 in January 2004 only to regain it at UFC 49 just seven months later. “The Natural” got this rematch after a freak cut over his eye caused the referee to stop the first bout, awarding the win to “The Phenom.”

Aside from Couture reclaiming the gold, the UFC 49 bout was also notable because it was the first time in UFC’s history that there was an immediate championship rematch granted. Since then, all four former champs to attempt to get right back on the horse have suffered defeat.   

Former UFC Champions In Immediate Title Rematch
Original ChampionOpponentEventResult In rematch
Randy CoutureVitor BelfortUFC 49Couture Wins via TKO
Andrei ArlovskiTim SylviaUFC 61Sylvia Wins via Decision
BJ PennFrankie EdgarUFC 118Edgar Wins via Decision
Frankie EdgarBenson HendersonUFC 150Henderson Wins via Decision
Anderson SilvaChris WeidmanUFC 168Weidman Wins Via TKO
Joanna JedrzejczykRose NamajunasUFC 223Namajunas Wins Via Decsion