Since the first UFC Heavyweight Championship bout at UFC 12, fifteen different men have worn the sport's most illustrious belt.
1. Mark Coleman (1997) – defeats Dan Severn at UFC 12 (2/7/97) to become the first UFC Heavyweight Champion.
2. Maurice Smith (1997) - defeats Mark Coleman at UFC 14 (7/27/97). Smith defends the title once, against Tank Abbott.
3. Randy Couture (1997-98) – defeats Maurice Smith at Ultimate Japan (12/21/97). Couture loses his title after a contract dispute.
4. Bas Rutten – (1999) defeats Kevin Randleman at UFC 20 (5/7/99) to win the vacant title. Rutten vacates the title to move down in weight.
5. Kevin Randleman (1999-2000) – defeats Pete Williams at UFC 23 (11/19/99) to win the vacant UFC Heavyweight title. He defends the title once, against Pedro Rizzo.
6. Randy Couture – (2000-2002) Returns to the UFC and regains his title by defeating Randleman at UFC 28 (11/17/00). He defends the title twice against Pedro Rizzo.
7. Josh Barnett (2002) – defeats Couture at UFC 36 (3/22/02) to win the title. Barnett loses his belt after testing positive for steroids.
8. Ricco Rodriguez (2002-03) – defeats Couture at UFC 39 (9/27/02) to claim the UFC Heavyweight title.
9. Tim Sylvia (2003) – stops Rodriguez at UFC 41 (2/28/03) to become champion (watch). Sylvia successfully defends his title against Gan McGee at UFC 44, but then relinquishes his crown after testing positive for steroids.
10. Frank Mir (2004-05) – defeats Sylvia for the vacant title at UFC 48 (6/19/04) (watch). Mir is seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and forced to give up his belt while he rehabilitated his injuries.
11. Andrei Arlovski (2005-06) – defeats Tim Sylvia in the first round at UFC 51 (2/5/05) to claim the interim title, which is later upgraded to the full championship. Arlovski defends the title twice, against Justin Eilers and Paul Buentello.
12. Tim Sylvia (2006-07) – becomes only the second man to regain the heavyweight championship when he knocks out Arlovski at UFC 59 (4/15/06). Sylvia defends the title against Arlovski and Jeff Monson.
13. Randy Couture (2007-08) – becomes the first man to heavyweight title three times when he decisions Sylvia over five rounds at UFC 68 (3/3/07) (watch). Couture defends title against Gabriel Gonzaga. After a period of inactivity, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Tim Sylvia were selected to fight for the interim title. Couture subsequently returned to active status in November of 2008.
14. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (2008) – defeats Tim Sylvia in the third round to win the interim heavyweight championship at UFC 81 (2/2/08) (watch).
15. Frank Mir (2008-09) – defeats Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira via TKO in the second round at UFC 92 (12/27/08) to win the interim heavyweight championship (watch). Lost to Brock Lesnar at UFC 100.
16. Brock Lesnar (2008-2010) – defeats Randy Couture via TKO in the second round at UFC 91 (11/15/08) to win the UFC heavyweight title (watch). Defeated Mir via 2nd round TKO at UFC 100 to unify UFC heavyweight title. On hiatus due to illness, returned in July of 2010 to defeat Carwin via 2nd round submission at UFC 116. Lost to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121.
17. Shane Carwin (2010) – defeats Frank Mir via first round KO at UFC 111 (3/27/10) to win interim UFC heavyweight title (watch). Lost to Lesnar via 2nd round submission at UFC 116.
18. Cain Velasquez (2010-11) – defeats Brock Lesnar via TKO in the first round at UFC 121 (10/23/10) (watch) to win the UFC heavyweight title. Lost to Junior dos Santos at UFC on FOX 1.
19. Junior dos Santos (2011-12) – defeats Cain Velasquez via KO in the first round at UFC on FOX 1 (watch) (11/12/11) to win the UFC heavyweight title. Defended title against Frank Mir at UFC 146 (watch). Lost title to Cain Velasquez at UFC 155
20. Cain Velasquez (2012 - ) – defeats Junior dos Santos via five round unanimous decision at UFC 155 (watch) (12/29/12) to regain the heavyweight title. Defended title against Antonio 'Bigfoot' Silva at UFC 160 (watch).