Israel Adesanya, Anderson Silva, Robert Whittaker: Ranking every UFC middleweight champion from best to worst

  • Tom Ward

Israel Adesanya will defend his UFC middleweight title with a rematch against New Zealand-born Australian Robert Whittaker this weekend.

The Last Stylebender’s second clash with ‘Bobby Knuckles’ will serve as the main event of UFC 271 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas on February 12.

Adesanya, 32, currently reigns supreme over one of the UFC’s most historic divisions. But who is the best middleweight of all time?

Here, GiveMeSport ranks every UFC middleweight champion from best to worst, based almost entirely on statistics and nothing else…

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – APRIL 17: UFC Middleweight fighter Anderson Silva of Brazil looks on before the UFC Media Day at Escola de Boxe Cesario Bezerra on April 17, 2019 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

1. Anderson Silva – 2,457 days, ten title defences

Who else? And not only the best middleweight of all time, but arguably one of the greatest fighters, pound-for-pound, the world has ever seen.

Anderson Silva‘s most notable wins came against Vitor Belfort, Forrest Griffin, Nate Marquardt and Chael Sonnen.

Nicknamed The Spider from Brazil, he successfully defended his belt a record ten times before being released from his contract aged 45 in 2020.

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 11: Chris Weidman reacts during UFC 205 Weigh-ins at Madison Square Garden on November 11, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

2. Chris Weidman – 889 days, three title defences

Chris Weidman might be one of the most underrated middleweight champions of all time.

He won the title by knocking out the legendary Brazilian back in December 2013 and defended it three times before finally losing in December 2015 to Luke Rockhold.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 06: Israel Adesanya makes his way to the Octagon for the Middleweight title bout during UFC 243 at Marvel Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

3. Israel Adesanya – 858 days, three title defences

Last time out, Adesanya comfortably outclassed Marvin Vettori to secure a clean sweep on the judges’ scorecards.

The Nigerian-born Kiwi has also beaten Derek Brunson, Paulo Costa, Kelvin Gastelum and Yoel Romero.

Will he jump above Weidman into second place by the end of the week? We’ll have to wait and see.

DALLAS – SEPTEMBER 19: UFC fighter Vitor Belfort (R) battles UFC fighter Rich Franklin (L) during their Catch weight bout at UFC 103: Franklin vs. Belfort at the American Airlines Center on September 19, 2009 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

4. Rich Franklin – 497 days, two title defences

Rich Franklin, who was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in April 2019, is fourth ahead of Michael Bisping.

Franklin, from Cincinnati, turned pro in 1999 and took the title with a 2005 hammering of Evan Tanner.

He also bears an uncanny resemblance to Hollywood actor Jim Carrey.

Ultimate Fighting Championship – UFC Fight Night 83 – O2 Arena, London, England – 27/2/16 Great Britain’s Michael Bisping celebrates winning Action Images via Reuters / Matthew Childs Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

5. Michael Bisping – 518 days, one title defence

Bisping, 45, famously became the first UFC champion from Britain back in June 2016.

The British MMA legend and UFC Hall of Famer flattened Rockhold with a looping overhand left in the main event of UFC 199 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

6. Murilo Bustamante – 267 days, one title defence

Not a household name, but a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under the great Carlson Gracie – Murilo Bustamante.

Beaten by greats Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson, ‘Bust A Move’ retired with a record of 15-8.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 9: Robert Whittaker celebrates after his victory over Yoel Romero in their interim UFC middleweight championship bout during the UFC 213 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 9, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

7. Robert Whittaker – 660 days, zero title defences

Some will argue Whittaker deserves to be much higher up on this list on account of everything that he has accomplished in his career.

But despite being upgraded to undisputed champion, he never actually managed to defend the belt.

Of course, that’s not completely his fault, as Romero missed weight ahead of their rematch at UFC 225 in June 2018.

NEWARK, NJ – APRIL 18: Luke Rockhold celebrates defeating Lyoto Machida of Brazil by tap out in their middleweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Prudential Center on April 18, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

8. Luke Rockhold – 175 days, zero title defences

In 2015, Rockhold knocked out Weidman to capture the UFC middleweight title at UFC 194.

However, in his first title defence Rockhold was put to sleep in the first round by Bisping after being hit with a barrage of punches.

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 04: Georges St-Pierre of Canada enters the octagon for his UFC middleweight championship bout against Michael Bisping of England during the UFC 217 event at Madison Square Garden on November 4, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

9. Georges St Pierre – 33 days, zero title defences

Georges St-Pierre JUST about – but only just – makes it into the top ten.

The Canadian came out of retirement to fight Bisping at Madison Square Garden in November 2017 before retiring again a few months later.

10. Evan Tanner – 119 days, zero title defences

A college wrestler, the American fought from 1997 to 2008 and had two wins against Phil Baroni.

Tanner, who died in 2008 aged 37, taught himself how to fight in MMA after watching video tutorials on television.

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Anderson Silva

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11. Dave Menne – 105 days, zero title defences

Dave Menne from Minnesota competed in a wide range of different organisations in various countries all over the world from 1997 to 2012.

He also had the honour of becoming the inaugural UFC middleweight champion in 2001 at UFC 33.

However, it was all downhill from there, as he lost the belt to Bustamante

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