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Black History Month

A Timeline of African American and Black UFC Athlete Accomplishments

In honor of Black History Month, Look Back on African American and Black UFC Athletes' Accomplishments Since the Inception of UFC

UFC is proud to celebrate Black History Month by acknowledging the achievements of African American and Black UFC athletes throughout our history.

During February, UFC will highlight the personal stories of these athletes, past and present, while celebrating their significance in promoting and growing UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts. Read more about the history of the achievements of African American and Black UFC athletes, dating back to the inception of UFC. 

1993

A Historic Night of Firsts

November 12 – UFC 1: The Beginning was the inaugural event for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Held in Denver, Colorado, the historic event also featured the first African American athletes to compete in the UFC with Zane Frazier, Art Jimmerson, Patrick Smith and Trent Jenkins all competing inside the Octagon. The pay-per-view also featured the first African American color commentator for a UFC event in the pre-Zuffa era, with Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown joining the desk to provide analysis of the first-of-its-kind event.

1994

March 11 – Orlando Wiet, born in Suriname and representing France, made his UFC debut at UFC 2: No Way Out. He recorded a TKO victory over Robert Lucarelli in the opening round of the tournament.

December 16 – Ron Van Clief made history as the oldest competitor to ever fight in the UFC at the age of 51 at UFC 4: Revenge of the Warriors. The Brooklyn, New York native took on eventual UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie.

1996

February 16 – Gary Goodridge, born in Trinidad and Tobago and representing Canada, made his UFC debut at UFC 8: David vs. Goliath. Goodridge defeated Jerry Bohlander by knockout in 5:31.

UFC 14 FOTN: Maurice Smith vs Mark Coleman
UFC 14 FOTN: Maurice Smith vs Mark Coleman
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1997

A Star-Studded Showdown

July 27– UFC 14: Showdown featured two separate tournaments in addition to a “Superfight” between Maurice Smith and Mark Coleman for the UFC heavyweight title. In the middleweight tournament, 1992 Olympic gold medalist Kevin Jackson defeated both of his opponents by submission to become the first African American to win a UFC tournament.

The “Superfight,” which featured two eventual UFC Hall of Fame inductees, also made history, with Maurice Smith becoming the first African American UFC champion, as well as the first African American to headline a non-tournament UFC event.

1999

November 19 – Kevin Randleman defeated Pete Williams by unanimous decision to win the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 23: Ultimate Japan 2. He would go on to successfully defend his heavyweight championship title once against Pedro Rizzo in 2000.

Kevin Randleman punches Maurice Smith in a heavyweight title eliminator at UFC 19 on March 5, 1999 in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Photo by Zuffa LLC)

2001

May 4 – Carlos Newton, born in Anguilla and representing Canada, defeated champion Pat Miletich by submission to win the UFC welterweight title at UFC 31: Locked and Loaded. Newton’s submission is one of the top submissions in UFC history. 

2002

July 13 – Mark Weir made history at UFC 38: Brawl at the Hall as the first Black athlete born in the United Kingdom to compete in the UFC. He defeated Eugene Jackson with a ten-second knockout, one of the fastest finishes in UFC history.

Mark Weir vs Eugene Jackson UFC 38
Mark Weir vs Eugene Jackson UFC 38
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2003

April 25 – David Loiseau, born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, made his UFC debut at UFC 42: Sudden Impact, becoming the first Black athlete born in Canada to compete in the UFC. He defeated Mark Weir by knockout in the first bout of the night.

2005

January 17 – In the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter, Josh Koscheck and Bobby Southworth became the first African American contestants on the show. The Ultimate Fighter 1 aired between January and April of 2005.

November 5 – Rashad Evans became the first African American athlete to win The Ultimate Fighter as the second season’s heavyweight tournament winner. The Ultimate Fighter 2 aired between August and November of 2005.

2006

October 14 – Anderson “Spider” Silva defeats Rich Franklin by first-round knockout at UFC 64: Unstoppable to win the UFC middleweight title. He would go on to defend his title ten times over the course of six years.

2007

May 26 – Quinton “Rampage” Jackson defeated Chuck Liddell by TKO to win the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 71: Liddell vs. JacksonHe would go on to successfully defend his light heavyweight title once against Dan Henderson later in 2007.

UFC 71: Rampage Jackson vs Chuck Liddell
UFC 71: Rampage Jackson vs Chuck Liddell
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2008

April 2 – Quinton “Rampage” Jackson became the first African American coach on The Ultimate Fighter during season 7: Team Rampage vs. Team Forrest. This season of The Ultimate Fighter aired between April and June of 2008.

December 27 – “Suga” Rashad Evans defeated Forrest Griffin by TKO to win the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 92: The Ultimate 2008He would hold on to the title, and his unbeaten streak, until losing to Lyoto Machida in May of 2009.

2011

March 19 – Jon Jones defeated Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones at light heavyweight to become the youngest UFC champion at the age of 23 years and 242 days. He successfully defended his title eight times over the course of his first four-year reign. He regained the crown in December 2018, adding three more successful title defenses.

2012

February 26 – Benson Henderson defeated Frankie Edgar by unanimous decision to win the UFC lightweight title at UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson. He successfully defended his title three times over the course of 14 months.

September 22 – Demetrious Johnson defeated Joseph Benavidez by split decision to win the inaugural UFC flyweight championship at UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort. Johnson defended his title successfully 11 times over the course of five years, a UFC record.

October 13 – Anderson “Spider” Silva defeats Stephan Bonnar with a first-round TKO at UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar to set the UFC record for most consecutive victories. Silva went undefeated through 16 consecutive UFC fights between  2006 and 2012.

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 11: Germaine de Randamie of The Netherlands celebrates her victory over Holly Holm in their women's featherweight championship bout during the UFC 208 event inside Barclays Center on February 11, 2017 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

2013

July 5 – Anderson “Spider” Silva sets the UFC record for longest title reign. His UFC middleweight champion reign lasted 2,457 days from October 14, 2006 through July 5, 2013.

July 27 – Germaine de Randamie made her UFC debut against Julie Kedzie, which she won by split decision, becoming the first Black female to compete in the UFC at UFC on FOX: Johnson vs. Moraga.

2014 

October 1– Angela Hill became the first African American female to compete on The Ultimate Fighter in the 20th season of the show. Hill competed on Team Melendez.

December 12 – Angela Hill also became the first African American female to compete in the UFC. She made her Octagon debut against Emily Kagan at the finale of The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crownedwinning by unanimous decision.

2015

May 23 – Daniel Cormier defeated Anthony Johnson by third-round submission to win the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 187: Johnson vs. Cormier. He successfully defended his title three times over the course of three years.

Black History: Tyron Woodley defeat Robbie Lawler to become the UFC welterweight champion at UFC 201

2016

July 30 – Tyron Woodley defeated Robbie Lawler by first-round knockout to win the UFC welterweight title at UFC 201: Lawler vs. Woodley. He successfully defended his title three times over the course of two years.

October 1 – Daniel Cormier became the first African American color commentator for a UFC event, during the Zuffa era, at UFC Fight Night 96: Lineker vs. Dodson.

2017

February 11 – Germaine de Randamie defeated Holly Holm at UFC 208: Holm vs. de Randamie to become the first Black athlete to headline a UFC event, the inaugural women’s featherweight champion, and the first Black female UFC champion.

July 7 – Maurice Smith becomes the first African American athlete to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Pioneer Wing as a member of the Class of 2017.

July 25 – Middleweights Geoff Neal and Karl Roberson became the first African American athletes to be awarded contracts on Dana White’s Contender Serieduring the third episode of the inaugural season.

October 7 – Demetrious Johnson defeated Ray Borg with a fifth-round submission at UFC 216: Ferguson vs. Lee to set the record for the most successful consecutive UFC title defenses (11).

UFC 226: Daniel Cormier vs Stipe Miocic
UFC 226: Daniel Cormier vs Stipe Miocic
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2019

March 2 – Kamaru Usman (Nigeria) defeated Tyron Woodley at UFC 235: Jones vs. Smith to become the UFC welterweight champion and the first African-born UFC champion. He has since defended his welterweight title successfully twice. 

July 5 – Rashad Evans was inducted into the Pioneer Wing of the UFC Hall of Fame as a member of the class for 2019.

October 6 – Israel Adesanya defeated Robert Whittaker by second-round knockout to win the undisputed UFC middleweight title at UFC 243: Whittaker vs. AdesanyaHe has since defended his middleweight title successfully twice.

2020

March 7 – On March 7, 2020, it was announced that Jon Jones was to be inducted into the Fight Wing of the UFC Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2020 for his 2013 fight against light heavyweight Alexander Gustafsson. The class of 2020 will be inducted alongside the 2021 class later this year.

May 16 – On May 16, 2020, it was announced that Kevin Randleman has been posthumously named to the UFC Hall of Fame Pioneer Wing as a member of the class of 2020. The class of 2020 will be inducted alongside the 2021 class later this year. 

September 12  – Angela Hill became the first African American female to headline a UFC event in her bout against Michelle Waterson at UFC Fight Night: Waterson vs. Hill.

 

UFC is proud to celebrate Black History Month by acknowledging the achievements of African American and Black UFC athletes throughout our history. During February, UFC will highlight the personal stories of these athletes, past and present, while celebrating their significance in promoting and growing UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts.