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Flashback: Vacant Title Fights | UFC 262

UFC 262 Will Feature A Title Fight For The Vacant UFC Lightweight Belt, But Before Then We Break Down Ten Vacant Title Fights Of The Past, Some Of Which Leading To The Most Revered Championship Reigns

This weekend’s epic showdown between leading lightweight submission artist Charles Oliveira and UFC newcomer Michael Chandler for the vacant UFC lightweight title is just the latest of handfuls of vacant title fights in UFC history.

We break down several pivotal vacant title fights, some of which have led to eras regarded as the most revered championship reigns the UFC has seen.

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Matt Hughes vs Georges St-Pierre

On October 22, 2004, Matt Hughes and Georges St-Pierre flight to determine the fifth UFC welterweight champion, a title left vacant by BJ Penn. Hughes reclaimed the title of champion, which he had previously held for 820 days with five title defenses, which he preserved for another 757 days across two title defenses. At welterweight, Matt Hughes’s combined reigns lasted for more than 1,500 days, with seven title defenses.

Dive Into The UFC Archives With UFC Fight Pass | Matt Hughes Hands GSP His First Loss

Matt Hughes is hoisted up on Georges St-Pierre's shoulders after Hughes defeated St-Pierre in their welterweight championship bout at UFC 50 at the Boardwalk Hall on October 22, 2004 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Matt Hughes is hoisted up on Georges St-Pierre's shoulders after Hughes defeated St-Pierre in their welterweight championship bout at UFC 50 at the Boardwalk Hall on October 22, 2004 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

BJ Penn vs Joe Stevenson

On January 19, 2008, BJ Penn and Joe Stevenson fought for the UFC lightweight championship title, left vacant by Sean Sherk. Penn defeated Stevenson with a second-round submission coming by way of rear naked choke to claim the title of UFC lightweight champion. Penn, the third-ever UFC lightweight champion, went on to defend his title three times during a reign which lasted 812 days.

Rewind to UFC 80: BJ Penn vs Joe StevensonWatch Cormier vs Johnson at UFC 187 Now

Daniel Cormier vs Anthony Johnson

On May 23, 2015, Daniel Cormier secured a third-round submission victory via rear naked choke over Anthony Johnson to claim the UFC light heavyweight title left vacant by Jon Jones. Cormier went on to defend this title three times during a reign that lasted 1,315 days. Cormier then vacated the belt after defeating Stipe Miocic for the UFC heavyweight title, becoming the second-ever champion to hold belts in two UFC weight classes simultaneously, on July 7, 2018.

Daniel Cormier celebrates after his submission victory over Derrick Lewis in their UFC heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 230 event inside Madison Square Garden on November 3, 2018 in New York, New York. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Daniel Cormier celebrates after his submission victory over Derrick Lewis in their UFC heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 230 event inside Madison Square Garden on November 3, 2018 in New York, New York. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Cris Cyborg vs Tonya Evinger

On July 29, 2017, Cris Cyborg faced Tonya Evinger for the UFC women’s featherweight title left vacant by Germaine de Randamie. Cyborg defeated Evinger by way of third-round TKO and went on to defend her championship title twice over the course of 517 days before losing the belt to the current champion, Amanda Nunes.

RELATED: Run It Back To UFC 214 With Cyborg vs Evinger  | The Reign of Khabib Begins: Watch On UFC Fight Pass

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Al Iaquinta

On April 7, 2018, Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated Al Iaquinta by unanimous decision to become the tenth UFC lightweight champion, a spot left vacant by both Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson. Nurmagomedov defended his title three times over the course of nearly 1,100 days before retiring as one of the all-time greats, with a final mixed martial arts record of 29-0.

Khabib - Journey to UFC Champion
Khabib - Journey to UFC Champion
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Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk

On December 8, 2018, Valentina Shevchenko defeated former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk by way of unanimous decision to win the UFC flyweight championship left vacant by Nicco Montaño. Shevchenko has defended her belt five times over the course of nearly 900 days, with her most recent title defense coming at UFC 261, when she defeated former UFC strawweight champion Jessica Andrade by way of second-round TKO.

Flashback To Shevchenko vs Joanna At UFC 231 | Rewatch UFC 238: Cejudo vs Moraes

Henry Cejudo vs Marlon Moraes

On June 8, 2019, Henry Cejudo moved up to bantamweight to challenge Marlon Moraes for the UFC bantamweight title, which was left vacant by TJ Dillashaw. Cejudo defeated Moraes by way of TKO with just nine seconds remaining in the third round to become the fourth-ever fighter to hold UFC championships at two weights simultaneously. Cejudo defended his bantamweight title once over the course of nearly a year, before announcing his retirement following his title defense victory over Dominick Cruz.

Henry Cejudo celebrates his TKO victory over Marlon Moraes of Brazil in their bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 238 event at the United Center on June 8, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Henry Cejudo celebrates his TKO victory over Marlon Moraes of Brazil in their bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 238 event at the United Center on June 8, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo

On July 12, 2020, Petr Yan was matched to face José Aldo for the vacant UFC bantamweight title left open by Henry Cejudo. Yan defeated Aldo with a fifth-round TKO, with just over 90 seconds remaining in the fight. Yan made his singular title defense against Aljamain Sterling on March 6, 2021, which he lost by disqualification.

Relive UFC 251 With Yan vs Aldo On UFC Fight Pass | Rewatch Figuriredo vs Benavidez 2

Deiveson Figueiredo vs Joseph Benavidez

On July 19, 2020, Deiveson Figuriredo faced Joseph Benavidez for a second time to claim the vacant UFC flyweight title. The first time the two met, nearly five months prior, Figueiredo defeated Benavidez by way of TKO, but missed weight and was made ineligible to win the title. Figueiredo defeated Benavidez for the second time, by way of first-round technical submission, to claim the UFC flyweight title left vacant by Henry Cejudo. Figueiredo has defended the title twice in 294 days, and he will face Brandon Moreno for a rematch of their December 2020 draw at UFC 263.

Journey To Champion - Petr Yan
Journey To Champion - Petr Yan
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Becoming "Legendary Polish Power" - Blachowicz vs Reyes

Jan Blachowicz vs Dominick Reyes

On September 27, 2020, Jan Blachowicz faced Dominick Reyes to claim the UFC light heavyweight crown left vacant by Jon Jones. Blachowicz defeated Reyes via second-round TKO. Nearly six months later, Blachowicz made his first successful title defense when he defeated Israel Adesanya, who moved up from middleweight to challenge Blachowicz for a second belt. The “Legendary Polish Power” handed “The Last Stylebender” his first loss in mixed martial arts, while successfully defending the UFC light heavyweight title.

Jan Blachowicz of Poland celebrates after his victory over Israel Adesanya of Nigeria in their UFC light heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 259 event at UFC APEX on March 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Jan Blachowicz of Poland celebrates after his victory over Israel Adesanya of Nigeria in their UFC light heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 259 event at UFC APEX on March 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Don't miss the next title vacancy be filled at UFC 262: Oliveira vs Chandler, live from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas on May 15, 2021. Prelims begin at 6:30pm ET/3:30pm PT, Main Card kicks off at 10pm ET/7pm PT.