From Randy Couture to Cain Velazquez and now Ngannou, the premier MMA promotion has seen a number of world-class heavyweight fighters in its 29-year history.
Here at GiveMeSport, we’ve compiled a list of the top 15 heavyweights to step inside the Octagon.
15. Brock Lesnar
Lesnar made his debut at UFC 81: Breaking Point, in a losing effort against former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir.
After bouncing back with a victory over Heath Herring at UFC 87, he would face and defeat Randy Couture for the heavyweight title in just his third UFC bout.
Two successful defences against Frank Mir and Shane Carwin followed before The Beast lost his title to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121.
He would go on to have two more fights against Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt before retiring from MMA. Despite only having a brief stint in the sport, Lesnar defiantly made a mark.
14. Bas Rutten
When legendary Dutch fighter Bas Rutten signed for the UFC in 1998, he was undefeated in his past 19 fights.
After a successful career in Pancrase, he joined the promotion with a lot of hype.
Whilst he only had two bouts in the UFC, he would go on to become heavyweight champion, defeating Kevin Randleman for the vacant title at UFC 20. He would later have to vacate the title due to injury.
In 2015, Rutten became the first European to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, taking his place in the "Pioneers" wing.
13. Josh Barnett
On March 22, 2002, Josh Barnett defeated Randy Couture to become the new and youngest-ever UFC heavyweight champion.
However, his reign didn’t last long as after the bout he would test positive for a banned substance and be stripped of the title.
He would return to the UFC in 2013, defeating Frank Mir via TKO at UFC 164, before picking up further wins over Roy Nelson and Andrei Arlovski, alongside defeats to Travis Brown and Ben Rothwell.
12. Andrei Arlovski
After defeating Aaron Brink by submission in his debut at UFC 28, Andrei Arlovski was thrown in against future heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez and contender Pedro Rizzo.
Whilst a young Arlovski suffered two early defeats in his UFC career, the Russian soon became one of the most feared fighters in his division.
After a three-fight undefeated streak, he would fight and beat Tim Sylvia for the interim heavyweight title in just 47 seconds.
He would later be promoted to undisputed champion before losing the title to Sylvia at UFC 59.
11. Junior dos Santos
Junior dos Santos made his UFC debut in style at UFC 90, winning Knockout of the Night for his brutal uppercut to heavyweight great Fabricio Werdum.
It was a sign of what was to come from the heavy-hitting Brazilian.
Following six more wins, JDS would become UFC heavyweight champion after defeating Cain Velasquez for the title with another iconic knockout.
He’d go on to have more iconic fights, including a five-round classic against Velasquez, which saw him lose his heavyweight strap via decision.
10. Alistair Overeem
After much anticipation and fanfare, Alistair Overeem made his debut at UFC 141 against former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
The English born-Dutch fighter would win the match inside the first round, earning him a title shot against Junior dos Santos. However, the fight never happened after Overeem failed a drugs test.
He would return to the UFC in 2013 and became a staple of the heavyweight division, facing Stipe Miocic in a losing effort for the title.
While Overeem never claimed the heavyweight championship in the UFC, his reputation from promotions around the world, plus his success in the UFC, makes him one of the best heavyweights to step inside the Octagon.
9. Francis Ngannou
Current UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is one of the biggest hitters to ever grace the sport.
The Cameroonian made his debut at UFC on FOX 17 with a win over Brazilian Luis Henrique. As his reputation grew larger, he began beating bigger names such as Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem.
This led to him facing Stipe Miocic for the title at UFC 220. Ngannou lost the bout via unanimous decision.
He’d eventually bounce back to face Miocic once again for the title at UFC 260 in March 2021, this time capturing the title with the performance of the night, the sixth time he won that accolade.
8. Frank Mir
After making his debut at UFC 34, Frank Mir captured the vacant heavyweight championship with an armbar against Tim Sylvia at UFC 48.
At the time he had an 8-1 record, but, following a major motorcycle accident, he would be forced to relinquish the title.
Whilst being one of the greatest submission fighters, Fir was also capable of vicious knockouts like his one at UFC Fight Night: Mir vs Duffee.
7. Fabricio Werdum
Fabricio Werdum had a stint with the UFC in the late ’00s before leaving for Strikeforce.
In 2011, the Brazilian returned to the promotion and in 2014 was set to take on Cain Velasquez for the heavyweight title, but the Mexican was forced to withdraw from the bout with a knee injury.
Instead, he faced and beat Mark Hunt to become interim champion. In the now rescheduled bout, Werdum took on Velasquez at UFC 188, beating him to become the undisputed champion.
6. Mirko Filipovic
Croatian Mirko Cro Cop joined the UFC with a fierce reputation from his time in now-defunct Japanese promotion Pride.
While he never hit the heights some may have expected from him whilst in the UFC, he certainly demonstrated what had made him one of the most respected heavyweight fighters.
A Submission of the Night win over Pat Barry with a brutal rear-naked choke was his highlight in the UFC.
5. Randy Couture
Randy Couture was an ever-present fixture in the early days of the UFC heavyweight division.
He captured his first of three heavyweight titles at UFC Japan after a decision victory against Maurice Smith. After vacating the title due to contract disputes, he once again won the title at UFC 28 against Kevin Randleman.
After losing his title to Josh Barnett, he would drop down to light heavyweight and capture that title on two occasions.
In 2007, he returned to the heavyweight division and beat Tim Sylvia for the championship, claiming his fifth UFC title.
At this point he was already a member of the UFC Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2006, joining Roy Gracie, Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock.
4. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
When Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira joined the UFC in 2007, he came with a massive reputation. He already had an MMA record of 30-4-1 (1) from his time in Pride and other promotions.
In his second bout, he beat Tim Sylvia to become the interim champion at UFC 81. While he would lose the title to Frank Mir UFC 92, he would go on to defeat Randy Couture via unanimous decision.
In 2016, he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
3. Daniel Cormier
Daniel Cormier won his first UFC title in the light heavyweight division, defeating Anthony Johnson for the vacant strap.
At UFC 226, Cormier returned to heavyweight and captured the title, defeating Stipe Miocic to become a double champ.
2. Cain Velasquez
In his prime, Cain Velasquez was a monster. He defeated Brock Lesnar at UFC 121 to claim his first heavyweight crown.
Whilst he would go on to lose the championship to Junior dos Santos, he would eventually win it back, beating the Brazilian at UFC 155.
He retired from MMA in 2019 with a record of 14-3. His losses came against Junior dos Santos, Fabricio Werdum and current heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. Not a bad list.
1. Stipe Miocic
There could be only one fighter who could take our top spot, Stipe Miocic.
The Ohio born fighter is a two-time heavyweight champion who defended his crown four times against some of the best heavyweights in history.
He captured the heavyweight championship for the first time against Fabricio Werdum at UFC 198, also winning the Performance of the Night.
He defended the title against Overeem, dos Santos and Ngannou, before losing it to Cormier at UFC 226.
At UFC 241 he won it back from Cormier and would hold onto it until March 2021, when he lost it to Ngannou.News Now - Sport News